Group Pushes for Police to Carry Overdose Drug

Feb 10, 2017
OpenFile Vancouver / Flickr

Columbia Police could be the next first responders to carry a life-saving drug that reverses the effects of opioid overdose.

The Columbia Fire Department started carrying naloxone last month. The drug is more commonly known as Narcan. According to the Narcan website, the drug works by displacing opioid molecules, which reverses the effects of opioid overdoses like slowed breathing and unresponsiveness.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Tiffany Seda-Addington has been fighting for expanded access to naloxone for nearly three years. Ever since her best friend James Carmack died of a heroin overdose at his mother’s house.

“When James died,” Tiffany said. “It was immediately we have to do something.”

That “something” that she and others in Pulaski County, Missouri, decided to fight for was expanded access to naloxone, also known as Narcan. It’s the opioid overdose antidote that essentially brings a person dying from a heroin or opioid overdose back to life.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

Heroin continues to be a serious problem throughout the county. The Centers for Disease Control released data earlier this month that showed heroin use increasing among nearly every group – age, income, gender, etc. And according to the CDC’s report, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths heave nearly quadrupled between 2002 and 2013.

The White House announced earlier this month that it was determined to do something about this problem. It introduced the Heroin Response Strategy, which works to promote public health and public safety partnerships through a 15-state area. This new project aims to focus more on treating heroin addicts than on punishing them.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

A House bill that would have allowed anyone to possess and administer naloxone, a drug that reverses opiate overdoses was one of the victims of the Senate stalemate at the end of the 2015 Legislative session.

Last July, Gov. Jay Nixon signed a bill that allows law enforcement to carry naloxone in their vehicles and administer the drug at the scene of an overdose. This is much like what paramedics have done throughout the state for many years.

But some legislators, advocates and law enforcement believe that putting Narcan in the hands of friends and family of addicts would be more effective at saving lives.

staxnet / Flickr

Supporters say a measure to allow more access to an easy-to-use treatment for heroin and other opioid drug overdoses would save lives.

The Missouri House gave initial approval Monday to a bill that would allow pharmacists and pharmacy assistants to prescribe a drug that's been effective in treating potentially fatal overdoses to anyone.