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Attorney General

Saying heroin is a ‘public health crisis,’ DOJ urges more access to drug that can reverse overdoses

Posted Mar 10, 2014 2:07 PM CDT
By Stephanie Francis Ward

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ABA file photo of Eric Holder by Tony Avelar

Heroin overdoses, as well as the abuse of prescription opiate drugs, pose an “urgent public health crisis,” says Eric Holder, who Monday urged law enforcement agencies to train and supply employees with naloxone, a medicine that can reverse an opiate overdose if administered quickly.

According to a Justice Department release, 17 states and the District of Columbia have amended laws to increase access to naloxone, and this has resulted in the reversals of more than 10,000 overdoses since 2001. "Used in concert with 'Good Samaritan' laws, which grant immunity from criminal prosecution to those seeking medical help for someone experiencing an overdose, naxolone can save lives," the release states.

“When confronting the problem of substance abuse, it makes sense to focus attention on the most dangerous types of drugs,” Holder said in a video the agency released. “And right now, few substances are more lethal than prescription opiates and heroin.”

Also, Reuters reports, Holder said the agency is increasing efforts to stem heroin trafficking and the abuse of prescription drugs.

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