What the life-saving drug Narcan might mean for the State Police

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Apr 7, 2015 3:53 AM

Photo by AP Photo/Mel Evans

(Harrisburg) -- The State Police will soon start carrying a life-saving drug for those experiencing an opioid overdose, the same drug that police in York County already have used to save two lives.

Members of Governor Tom Wolf's administration are expected to outline details of his plan to put the drug naloxone in State Police cars later today.

Since stocking police cars in York County with it, officers saved two people from potentially fatal overdoses in less than a week.

Dr. Michael Bohrn, president of the Pennsylvania College of Emergency Physicians, says heroin is a widespread problem in York County.

"We had considered York County to be sort of the middle class population and not really impacted a whole lot by heroin. We would see it occasionally on the fringes of things, and now I think we're seeing a lot more across the whole socio-economic spectrum," says Dr. Bohrn.

Bohrn, speaking on WITF's Smart Talk, says addiction to prescription painkillers often leads to heroin usage, because the street price for an Oxycontin pill is frequently much higher than a heroin baggie.

"The prescription medications, whether they're obtained legally through medical visits etcetera or on the street, often become more expensive than heroin, and we see a spectrum of folks that then start using heroin which is much more potent and much more addictive and then the spiral continues on from there," he adds.

The drug, more commonly known by its brand name Narcan, is quickly and easily shot through the nose.

It's been in Delaware County police cars since last November, and is estimated to have saved at least 31 lives.

Narcan can cost between $25 and $40 a dose.

This story has been edited to reflect that the Governor is not expected to attend Tuesday's press conference.

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