A drug called naloxone has the power to save someone’s life who is just moments away from death. Doctors and medics have used it for years and now a legislative committee here in Maine has endorsed a bill that seeks allowing more people access to the life saving drug. News Source 8’s Angela Christoforos reports…
Naloxone is referred to as a lifesaver or the second chance drug. It counteracts the effects of heroin and prescription pain killers to prevent overdoses.
Daryl Boucher, Director of Critical Care and Emergency Medicine at TAMC said, “The onset is very fast, in really 2 or 3 minutes you will see a response.”
A Maine legislative committee has endorsed a bill to expand access to the drug that would allow health care professionals to prescribe it to a family member or caregiver. The bill would not only allow heath care professionals to prescribe naloxone, it would also allow police officers and firefighters to administer the drug as well.
Presque Isle Chief of Police Matt Irwin says that could be a risky situation, “I’m very uncomfortable when they try to turn cops into medics, and we’re not trained for that very few of us are trained for that.”
” The concern is that you have to be able to recognize what the person has overdosed on and so naloxone really is specific to a very narrow class of medications; the narcotics,” said Boucher.
Naloxone also known as narcan doesn’t completely solve the problem, it just delays it. The drugs life span is less than an hour and a half, so the person who has overdosed still needs urgent medical care.
“Though this could be life saving for a population it’s a medication that has risks and we need to continue our efforts at preventing narcotic overdose and preventing subtance abuse in general,” said Boucher.
There’s also concern that this effort to prevent deaths from drug overdose may increase access to those who are abusing drugs.
Naloxone is being used in several states. In California anyone can ask a doctor for the drug under a new law that went into effect January first, and Massachusetts has also increased access to the drug as well.