| April 24
April 24 Police in coastal Ocean County in New
Jersey, faced with a doubling in deaths from drug overdoses in
the past year, have issued all police officers an anti-opiate
drug in a pilot program aimed at combating deaths tied to
Police have already saved six people from overdoses since
launching early this month a test of the anti-opiate drug
naloxone, which helps restore breathing in people who have
overdosed on opiate drugs.
"We're on a roll," said Al Della Fave, a spokesman for the
county prosecutor's office, which led the effort. "We've heard
from all the officers. In almost every case, their first comment
is how great it will be to do something except stand there."
The county, home to about 583,000 people, saw 112 overdose
deaths in 2013, more than double the 53 recorded in 2012, Della
Fave said. That rise was fueled by an epidemic of prescription
painkiller abusers who have turned to heroin because it is
States across the country have cleared the path for first
responders to carry the rescue drug, which goes by the brand
name Narcan and can restore breathing in two to five minutes.
Municipalities in New York and Massachusetts are conducting
similar tests and New York State officials earlier this month
laid out plans to equip every officer in the state with the
Earlier this month the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
approved a portable device to treat overdoses that people
without medical training can use.
Della Fave said there are plans to roll out the program
across the state from the coastal county about 50 miles (80 km)
east of Philadelphia.
Last year, New Jersey enacted a law that allowed drug users
to call for emergency medical assistance without fear of
prosecution for minor drug crimes.
"New Jersey has been hard hit," said Daniel Raymond, policy
director at the New York-based Harm Reduction Coalition.
"They've really gotten on board with preventing overdose deaths.
We're already seeing a difference."
States including Maine and Connecticut are mulling similar
The first city to begin using Narcan, Quincy, Massachusetts,
reversed 221 overdoses since requiring first responders to carry
the drug in 2010. First responders in Suffolk County, New York
used Narcan 564 times in 2013, and say they saved the life of
all but one who received it, according to officials there.
(Reporting by Daniel Kelley in Philadelphia; Editing by Scott
Malone and Lisa Shumaker)