Atlantic County expected to authorize use of Narcan for heroin, pill overdoses

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Christie Rotondo/Two different types of Narcan are displayed. It can come as a nasal spray or injected with a needle to stop an overdose. Christie Rotondo/Two different types of Narcan are displayed. It can come as a nasal spray or injected with a needle to stop an overdose.

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP – By next week, Atlantic County could be rolling out a policy authorizing its first responders to carry Naloxone, a drug which can stop narcotic drug overdoses.

 According to Atlantic County Acting Prosecutor James McClain, the state’s Attorney General and Gov. Chris Christie are expected to announce the success and expansion of a pilot program which trained and equipped police officers in Ocean and Monmouth counties to administer the antidote Narcan to people suffering from heroin and prescription narcotic overdoses.

 When the announcement is made next week, McClain said Atlantic County will be ready to roll its policy out to the local police departments and emergency medical service squads that want to participate.

 Narcan is a trademarked version of the drug Naloxone, and the antidote is also known as Nalone and Narcanti. It was developed in the 1960s and is used to counter opiate overdoses.

  “We have a policy ready to go when the attorney general and governor give us the green light,” he said on Monday, June 9. McClain was in the audience of the Join Together Atlantic County coalition’s “Suburban Substance Abuse Summit” at Egg Harbor Township High School, during which audience members raised questions regarding the use of Narcan.

“Any municipality in Atlantic County will be given the guidelines and all they have to do is adhere to those guidelines,” he told The Current. “It’s basically a copy of the Ocean County program, and they can roll it out when they are ready.”

 The drug works like a nasal spray, Egg Harbor Township Police Capt. Chris Ruef explained during the summit. It can also be injected with a needle.

 According to Tonya Ahern, an Upper Township woman who works with Parent to Parent, a support group for parents of individuals suffering from addiction, the drugs are also available to the general public with a prescription from a doctor.

 “Every parent should have it,” she said during the summit. She said there are organizations that have received grant money to provide the training and the antidote to those who need it.

Christie has called Narcan “a vital, lifesaving element of the state’s broader approach to the drug problem.”

McClain said local departments will need to decide the most efficient way to deliver the drug to those in need.

“There are municipalities where EMS routinely arrive at scenes of overdose before the police,” he said. “Each municipality needs to make a cost-effective decision.”

 He said state law will allow police departments to fund the initial start up costs through forfeiture funds, ongoing supplies will need to be factored into departmental budgets.

 “There are costs attached to this. They have to buy kits, and it’s a medicine so it has a shelf life. Municipalities have to commit to re-up the medicine on a fairly regular basis.”

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