Attorney General Holder Announces Plans for Federal Law Enforcement Personnel to Begin Carrying Naloxone

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Attorney General Holder Announces Plans for Federal Law Enforcement Personnel to Begin Carrying Naloxone

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WASHINGTON—In a new memorandum released Friday, Attorney General Eric Holder urged federal law enforcement agencies to identify, train and equip personnel who may interact with a victim of a heroin overdose with the drug naloxone.  This latest step by the Attorney General will pave the way for certain federal agents — such as emergency medical personnel — to begin carrying the potentially life-saving drug known for effectively restoring breathing to a victim in the midst of a heroin or opioid overdose.

According to the most recent study, 110 Americans on average die from drug overdoses every day, outnumbering even deaths from gunshot wounds or motor vehicle crashes.  More than half of these drug overdose deaths involve opioids such as heroin and prescription pain relievers.  Between 2006 and 2010, heroin overdose deaths dramatically increased by 45 percent.

“The shocking increase in overdose deaths illustrates that addiction to heroin and other opioids, including some prescription painkillers, represents nothing less than a public health crisis,” said Attorney General Holder.  “I am confident that expanding the availability of naloxone has the potential to save the lives, families and futures of countless people across the nation.”

The Justice Department wants federal law enforcement agencies, as well as their state and local partners, to review their policies and procedures to determine whether personnel in those agencies should be equipped and trained to recognize and respond to opioid overdose by various methods, including the use of naloxone.  Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have amended their laws to increase access to naloxone, resulting in over 10,000 overdose reversals since 2001.

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