San Francisco’s health department has begun giving a controversial anti-overdose medication to heroin addicts. The Los Angeles Times says that despite criticism that it could encourage further addiction, health officials say the prescription medicine naloxone will save lives and give addicts a chance to go clean.
“We know this saves lives and has almost no side effects. It’s a miracle drug,” said Dr. Josh Bamberger of the city’s public health department. A few other public agencies around the country have taken similar steps.
The naloxone program requires people who receive the drug to be trained in how to administer it and how to perform other rescue techniques to assist overdose victims.
Critics worry that dispensing naloxone to addicts may cause more harm than good. “This is a huge mistake,” says Dr. Eric Voth, a Kansas addiction specialist and spokesman for Drug Free America, a national organization. “It just isn’t safe to remove this from a medical setting and put it in the hands of addicts who are notoriously unreliable,” he says.