Pubdate: Sun, 27 Apr 2014
Source: Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ)
Copyright: 2014 Newark Morning Ledger Co


It's barely been more than a month since the Christie administration 
gave New Jersey EMTs permission to use a new kind of drug on patients 
who overdose on heroin. The drug, Narcan, saves lives by reversing 
the effects of heroin when a user ODs.

Since March 21, when the state's health commissioner signed a waiver 
allowing EMTs to use the drug, six patients have been saved in Ocean 
County alone - the epicenter of New Jersey's heroin epidemic.

There were a record-breaking 112 overdose deaths in Ocean County last 
year, most linked to heroin or opioids, compared with 53 in 2012. 
Statewide, drug-related deaths rose from 1,026 in 2011 to 1,294 
deaths in 2012, according to the state medical examiner.

The waiver, together with the Overdose Prevention Act - signed into 
law last year by Gov. Chris Christie - means EMTs, health care 
professionals, pharmacists and others who administer Narcan are 
protected from civil, criminal and professional liability.

Often, public health policy is a high-altitude game, made up of 
policies and measures that do good work over the long term. The 
Christie administration deserves credit for saving these lives - six 
now, and those in the future. How gratifying it must be for 
policymakers who fast-tracked the Narcan waiver to see such 
immediate, lifesaving results.
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