Some federal agents, including emergency medical personnel, will begin carrying the potentially life-saving drug known for effectively restoring breathing to a victim in the midst of a heroin or opioid overdose, the U.S. Justice Department said today. 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.
Some 110 Americans on average die from drug overdoses every day, outnumbering deaths from gunshot wounds or motor vehicle crashes. More than half of 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,” Holder said. “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.” Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have increased access to naloxone, resulting in 10,000 overdose reversals since 2001.