A potentially life-saving medication for anyone who overdoses on heroin has federal approval after several members of Congress advocated for it.
The nasal spray version of naloxone hydrochloride, or Narcan, has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The medication can stop or reverse the effects of a heroin overdose, and with overdose deaths on the rise in Illinois, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says it can be an important tool for first responders.
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"It can't hurt you. If you're not going through a heroin overdose and it's administered to you, it won't hurt you, but it could literally save the life of someone who's overdosed," Durbin said. "It breaks my heart to think this is happening to young people."
Members of both parties had pushed for nasal Narcan's approval.
U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) said in a statement, "I have been asking the FDA to approve nasal Narcan for over a year and applaud their decision to make this life-saving drug available nationwide."
U.S. Rep. Bob Dold (R-Kenilworth) had also been pushing for its approval, and welcomed the news, saying " “Drug overdose deaths are now the leading cause of injury death in the United States, but naloxone has already proven to be a powerful tool for overdose prevention, saving more than 35 lives in Lake County in the last year.
As for helping local law enforcement with funding to make sure officers have nasal Narcan on hand, Durbin says he can't make that promise.
"What we're doing is trying to give grants to police departments so we can try to allay some of their other expenses, but I wish we could pay for the whole thing. I think it's a good investment," Durbin said.