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Federal Law Enforcement May Begin Carrying Naloxone

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In a new memorandum, Attorney General Eric Holder has urged federal law enforcement agencies to start training personnel to treat victims of heroin overdose with the drug naloxone. This will allow trained federal law enforcement personnel to carry the potentially lifesaving drug known to restore breathing in victims caught in the clutches of heroin overdose.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced the new memorandum at a conference on law enforcement and naloxone convened by the DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance in partnership with the DEA and other agencies. Eric Holder had earlier in March urged local law enforcement to routinely carry naloxone to save lives.

According to the DOJ’s press release, about 110 Americans die every day on an average from drug overdoses. This well exceeds the death rate caused by gunshots or car crashes. It is not known whether the phenomenon is related to the economic recession or not, but the DOJ cited statistics that showed heroin overdose deaths increased by at least 45 percent between 2006 and 2010.

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U.S. Attorney General Eric 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.” Holder added, “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.”

The Justice Department wants all concerned law enforcement agencies including federal, state and local to review their policies and find whether personnel should be equipped and trained to properly respond to opioid overdose, including using naloxone. Already, seventeen states and the District of Columbia have amended laws to increase access to the drug.

Holder also stressed upon the need to preserve “important law enforcement tools like Immediate Suspension Orders, which allow DEA to immediately shut down irresponsible distributors, pharmacies and rogue pain clinics …” Referring to the fact that the Congress is debating whether to remove the ability to impose ISOs, Holder said if Congress were to take them away, “it would severely undermine a critical component of our efforts to prevent communities and families from falling prey to dangerous drugs.”

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