ALTOONA, BLAIR COUNTY - The director of a local emergency department says heroin use seems to be on the increase in our region. He's seen an uptick in overdoses in the ER at UPMC Altoona in the past six months to a year.
When you combine that with what he calls a very,very large prescription drug abuse problem, UPMC Altoona Emergency Department Chairman Dr. Matthew Bouchard says various forms of Narcan, an antidote for both heroin and prescription narcotics need to be available to emergency personnel and even the relatives of abusers.
"The key, obviousy, is to get people so that they're not addicted," he says, "but I think that getting Narcan out in the community is a nice way to reduce deaths form drug overdose, in a way that doesn't seem to increase risky behavior."
Dr Bouchard says Narcan may prevent an overdose death, but in any event, won't cause harm. He says Pittsburgh and dozens of other cities now make it available to first responders.
A bill introduced in the state senate would allow Narcan prescriptions to be written for family members of addicts to administer in case of an emergency.