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Bill for use of Narcan introduced to curb heroin overdoses


Delaware County officials announced Thursday they are pushing for legislation to allow police officers to carry a drug that can reverse the effects of a heroin overdose. Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan and the County Council want officers in their jurisdiction to be able to carry naloxone, also known as Narcan, a drug which can reverse a heroin, oxycontin, or other opiate overdose. Last year in Delaware County, there were 50 heroin-related deaths and a total of 119 drug-related deaths. “This is a story we hear all too often in the District Attorney’s office,” said District Attorney Whelan. “It is also a story heard all too often in the Medical Examiner’s office as well.”

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have passed "Good Samaritan" laws that grant limited immunity to drug users who seek help for someone who has overdosed, according to the Trust for America's Health (TFAH), a nonpartisan research and advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. The same number have expanded access to the medication naloxone (also known by its brand name Narcan), which can quickly reverse the effects of opioid overdoses and restore breathing to a stricken person.

Similar measures are under consideration in at least six other states (Maine, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia). American Medical Association, the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the American Public Health Association has endorsed the passing of these measures, but there is disagreement of one possible drug that can counteract the lethal dose of heroin. In Quincy, Florida, police officers are now carrying the powerful drug Narcan. Narcan is sprayed into the nose of the victim and stops the overdose process only for a few minutes. Medical attention is needed immediately after. It is not a cure all by any means. According to 3news in Quincy, Florida, Quincy became one of the first cities to use Narcan in 2010 after a spike in overdose deaths. It's been employed there 234 times. Nineteen other police departments across the country have also started using Narcan, which costs $20 a dose.

According to the drug can be administered “Research has shown that with basic training, nonmedical professionals, such as friends, family members or even concerned bystanders, can recognize when an overdose is occurring and give Narcan™” Also, according to the website “the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowski (the U.S. Drug Czar), remarked that naloxone distribution is a key component of overdose prevention.”

In still another way that residential areas are trying to combat the heroin epidemic is by prosecuting those who sell the drug that then causes death in a mortal. On Friday, in Paterson, New Jersey, prosecutors’ there have charged two men in the “drug-induced death” of an Allendale man for selling him the heroin that led to his fatal overdose. According to, “Brendan Cole, 22, was found dead of an apparent heroin overdose on Jan. 4 at his parents’ Allendale home. Detectives found that Cole had purchased heroin from Timothy Volpe, 20, and Kaleik Easton, 19, both of Paterson, according to the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office.”

In Pittsburgh PA, where there have been 22 deaths blamed on a deadly combination of heroin that had been mixed with Fentanyl “The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office says, “If through the course of this investigation, evidence is developed that any person or persons in our jurisdiction knowingly distributed this lethal heroin mixture, District Attorney [Stephen] Zappala will pursue a charge of drug delivery resulting in death” according to CBS Pittsburgh.

Communities across our country are working to find a way to cure the surge of heroin, but right now it is too soon to see if the different methods are working. Training seems to be key and many communities small and large have initiated programs aimed at middle school students to have them have the necessary data so that they will not even attempt a drug like heroin. In Delaware County, PA, they have a new heroin task force that does just that. The task force visits schools in an attempt to educate both students and parents alike. In Massachusetts plans were made as far back as 2006 to educate students. In cities such as Chicago a program was introduced to combat the ills of heroin.

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