Pubdate: Mon, 29 Jun 2015
Source: San Diego Union Tribune (CA)
Copyright: 2015 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.
Note: Seldom prints LTEs from outside it's circulation area.
Author: Dana Littlefield


Sheriff's Department Reports 11 Lives Saved

Since the start of a pilot program last year, patrol deputies in the 
Sheriff's Department have been equipped to administer a drug that 
counteracts the effects of heroin or other opioid overdoses.

It's a program that has saved lives, sheriff's officials say. Eleven, so far.

Deputies have been trained to supply naloxone hydrochloride when they 
encounter people in the throes of a drug-related medical emergency. 
The naloxone acts like an antidote to certain types of narcotics, 
including painkillers such as morphine and oxycodone.

"It's relatively easy," said Capt. James Bovet of the Santee 
sheriff's station, where the pilot program began in January 2014. 
Initially, about 100 deputies who patrol Santee, Lakeside and 
unincorporated areas near El Cajon received instruction on how to 
administer the drug.

"It's an aerosol injector," he said. "You're not putting the needle in anyone."

Of the 11 adults the deputies were able to revive, Bovet said, all 
but one likely suffered from a heroin overdose; the 11th was under 
the influence of a prescription drug. A 12th person was too far gone 
by the time the treatment was administered, authorities said. That person died.

Later, Sheriff Bill Gore authorized expansion of the program. His was 
the first law enforcement agency in the state to equip its officers 
or deputies with naloxone for use in the field.

Dr. Bruce Haynes, the county's emergency medical services director, 
helped develop the training program.

Naloxone, known by several brand names including Narcan and Evzio, is 
a narcotic that can be provided through an injection into muscle or 
under the skin, into a vein through an IV or via aerosol into the 
nose. Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved an 
auto-injector device for use by family members and caregivers in 
situations where they know of or suspect an opioid drug overdose. 
Signs include decreased breathing or heart rate, or loss of consciousness.

Experts say naloxone restores breathing within two to five minutes 
and can prevent brain injury. It only works on overdoses caused by 
opioids and has no potential for abuse.

Drug overdoses, particularly those resulting from prescription 
medications, are the leading cause of injury death in the United 
States, according to the FDA. In 2013, the Centers for Disease 
Control and Prevention reported that drug overdose deaths had 
increased steadily for more than a decade.

A recent report from the National Center for Health Statistics showed 
the U.S. death rate from heroin overdoses nearly tripled between 2010 
and 2013, indicating that abusers may have turned to the street drug 
when the prescription medications became harder to obtain.

As part of its response to the rise in opioid overdoses, the U.S. 
Department of Justice launched an online "tool kit" for law 
enforcement on the use of naloxone in the field. Since the first 
pilot program was launched in Quincy, Mass., in 2010, many agencies 
around the country have equipped officers with the drug and trained 
them on how to use it.

Because naloxone is a prescription drug, there are laws governing how 
it can be administered and by whom. Those laws vary by state. The 
legal issues become particularly complicated when a prescription drug 
is provided to someone - like a deputy sheriff - who plans to 
administer it to a third party other than himself or herself.

According to the Network for Public Health Law, New Mexico was the 
first state to "amend its laws to make it easier for medical 
professionals to prescribe and dispense naloxone, and for lay 
administrators to use it without fear of legal repercussions." As of 
last month, 33 other states including California, and the District of 
Columbia had made similar changes.

In California, Assembly Bill 635 was approved by Gov. Jerry Brown in 
2013. It authorized licensed health care providers to issue standing 
orders for the administration of so-called "opioid antagonists" like 
naloxone by a family member, friend or other person in a position to 
assist someone experiencing an overdose.

"Why wouldn't that include a deputy sheriff?" Bovet said in a recent 
interview. In situations where someone has suffered an overdose, he 
said, deputies have been instructed to leave brochures containing 
information on how to seek treatment for drug addiction or other 
resources they may require.

The department partnered with the McAlister Institute, one of the 
largest alcohol- and drug-treatment providers in the county.

"We've taken a couple of referrals from them," said Jeanne McAlister, 
founder and CEO of the institute. "It's just another way to let 
people know that there is treatment available. I think that's a good thing."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom