US & Canada

NYPD officers to carry heroin overdose antidote

A kit of Naloxone, a heroin antidote that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, is displayed at a press conference about a new community prevention program for heroin overdoses in which New York police officers will carry kits of Naloxone, 27 May 2014 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The kit is stable for two years and costs $60

New York City police officers will carry an antidote to treat heroin overdoses, responding to an alarming spike in heroin-related deaths in recent years, authorities have said.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman hailed the "stunningly effective" antidote's record in other communities, saying it would "save lives".

The purchase of 20,000 kits of naloxone will be funded by seized assets.

City officials have said lethal overdoses rose 71% between 2010-12.

In a statement, New York Police Commissioner William Bratton said the New York Police Department was "proud" to join the state's Community Overdose Protection programme and said a recent pilot programme in the borough of Staten Island had saved five people.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The city has seen a sharp increase in heroin-related overdoses in the past several years

The kits cost $60 (£36) each and include two syringes and two inhalers of naloxone. They have a shelf-life of two years.

The state was releasing about $1.2m from its civil and criminal asset forfeitures to pay for New York City's kits. They will be carried by patrol, transit and housing officers.

"By providing NYPD police officers with naloxone, we are making this stunningly effective overdose antidote available in every corner of the five boroughs," Mr Schneiderman said in a statement. "This program will literally save lives."

The attorney general said the kits had saved 563 lives last year in New York's Suffolk County.

A similar programme in Quincy, Massachusetts was the first to require officers to carry naloxone. Since autumn 2010, the department's officers have used the treatment 221 times and successfully reversed 211 overdoses.

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