WASHINGTON -- For the first time, federal law enforcement agencies will begin identifying and training agents to carry naloxone, the drug that has helped resuscitate thousands of heroin overdose victims.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced the program Thursday at a meeting with law enforcement groups, saying that he has urged federal agencies, including the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshals Service and Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives to begin the process of making the drug available to select agents to help counter a dramatic spike in heroin overdose deaths across the country.
Between 2006 and 2010, heroin deaths increased by 45 percent.
Holder's directive follows public remarks in March when he recommended that local emergency responders begin carrying the drug, credited with 10,000 overdose reversals since 2001. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have amended their laws to allow for greater access to naloxone.
Although, like you, I recognize that there are numerous challenges involved in naloxone implementation from acquisition and replenishment, to training, medical oversight, and liability issues I am confident that expanding the availability of this tool has the potential to save the lives, families, and futures of countless people across the nation,'' Holder said in a draft of his remarks.
I am certain that the leaders in this room together with our colleagues and counterparts far beyond it possess the knowledge, the skill, and the determination to forge workable solutions to these pressing concerns.''
Police in Portland and Salem are also considering training and equipping officers to use naloxone.