Heroin antidote could become “over-the-counter”

Heroin antidote could become

Cassie Hall | LUTV
February 19, 2016; 6 p.m.

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Photo by Cassie Hall

A new Missouri bill proposing the sale of an opiate antidote drug has passed through the House of Representatives.

The drug Naloxone, more commonly referred to as Narcan, is available without a prescription in 35 states throughout the United States. Missouri is not yet one of these states, but likely will be soon.

Naloxone is used to help revive people who are suffering from an opiate overdose. These overdoses are usually caused by heroin. Walgreens currently sells the antidote in the 35 states where the law allows. The new Missouri bill passed through the House of Representatives and will now go through the Senate.

A law passed allowing first responders to carry naloxone two years ago. St. Peters Central County Assistant Fire Chief Steve Brown says the law allowing anyone to purchase the drug is an important step to saving lives.

“We’ve run a tremendous number of calls in our community where we’ve had patients that have died from opiate overdoses. We want to have all the tools available for us to be able to do the job. And if this is a tool that we can get out into the community that helps save a life, it doesn’t matter, we want it to be out there” said Brown.

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Photo by Cassie Hall

Steve Lynch, Missouri House Representative is the creator of the bill. According to Lynch 85 percent of overdose deaths happen when someone else is around. He says it would give family and friends the opportunity to save the life of their loved one.

Chief brown says there is no reason to not have the drug available.

“What’s really nice about the naloxone or otherwise known as narcan is that there is no contraindications to it meaning if given to someone who isn’t in an overdose there’s no harmful effects to it” said Brown.

St. Louis D-E-A officer Juan Wilson says narcan is not always a sure thing. He recalled one case where an overdose victim needed six doses. He’s also concerned some users could abuse the overdose drug.

“You are going to have users who are fighting their addiction who are actually trying to go through recovery and relapse. And then you’re going to have a group who are going to use it kind of like how plan B is used. They feel like they’re going to be able to use as much heroin as they want to” said Wilson.

If the bill passes through the Senant it will then need to be approved by the governor.