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American Press

Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Southwest Louisiana ,

Opioid abuse settlement helps law officers

Last Modified: Wednesday, May 17, 2017 9:48 AM

By The American Press

Opioid overdoses are becoming more frequent in Louisiana, and the numbers are alarming.

Attorney General Jeff Landry said the city of New Orleans has more opioid-related deaths than it does murders. Nationwide, more people are dying from abusing opiates than traffic crashes.

Jeff Davis Parish Sheriff Ivy Woods said there have been “two to three overdoses in the last two weeks,” with almost 98 percent of inmates incarcerated because of drug crimes. 

A recent settlement is going to provide law enforcement officers with another way to help control the problem and save lives.

The settlement, involving pharmaceutical company Pfizer, will provide $1 million for officers to submit vouchers for the anti-opiate medication Naloxone. The drug blocks the effects of opiates on the respiratory tract. Each voucher will be good for 10 doses of Naloxone that law enforcement agencies can take to a local pharmacy to get filled. Additional vouchers can be requested based on need.

Landry said police should be able to apply for the vouchers within the next month or two.

Naloxone won’t just help those who may be overdosing on opiates. It will protect officers when they conduct drug searches. Last week in Ohio, an officer overdosed after accidentally touching fentanyl, a powerful synthetic that is often mixed with heroin. The officer survived.

Accidents sometimes happen, and having the Naloxone on hand immediately could mean the difference between life and death.

What’s good about Naloxone is that it has no other effects than treating someone who is overdosing on opiates. Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso said deputies know how to spot the physical signs of an overdose, but sometimes the symptoms may only mimic an overdose. Luckily, giving Naloxone to someone who isn’t overdosing won’t have unintended consequences.

Mancuso said the opioid problem isn’t as bad in Calcasieu compared with New Orleans and Jeff Davis, but it is a growing problem. Hopefully, the vials of Naloxone can save the lives of people who are abusing opiates.

Officers still have their hands full with combating the growing statewide problem of opioid abuse. At least they’ll have another tool to prevent fatal overdoses and hopefully get addicts on the road to recovery.

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