Indianapolis Police to Start Carrying Drug That Reverses Heroin Overdoses

February 12, 2014

A resurgence in heroin use is troubling local law enforcement officials, but efforts to combat the problem are underway, starting with the front-line police officers themselves.

Beginning next month, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is piloting a new program that puts a life-saving heroin and opioid prescription drug antidote in the hands of officers. The drug, naloxone, comes in the form of a nasal spray capable of reversing an opioid overdose.

The program was formulated in response to an alarming statistic: Last year, the city recorded 95 heroin overdose deaths, a number that has more than doubled since 2011, Indianapolis Public Safety Director Troy Riggs said.

“That’s a lot of people needlessly losing their lives,” Riggs said. “The main reason we’re doing this is we value human life. If we can save a life, that’s a win for us. We cannot be apathetic.”

While allowing police officers to administer naloxone is new to Indianapolis, the drug itself is not. Developed in the 1960s by pharmaceutical company Sankyo, naloxone has been in use by emergency medical crews for years, including in Indianapolis. Other metropolitan police departments, such as Chicago, have similar programs.

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