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Holder Urges Use of Drug to Combat Heroin Overdoses

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Attorney General Eric Holder has urged first responders to carry a drug that can reverse heroin overdoses, in order to help curb the “growing public health crisis” of addiction to the drug.

Holder announced the new initiative in a video posted Monday to the Justice Department website. He noted that heroin deaths have increased 45% between 2006 and 2010, and that heroin seizures along the Mexican border have gone up 320% since 2008, USA Today reports. “Addiction to heroin and other opiates — including certain prescription pain-killers — is impacting the lives of Americans in every state, in every region, and from every background and walk of life — and all too often, with deadly results,” he said.

The Attorney General called on more states to enable first responders to carry naloxone, a drug that can reduce a heroin overdose if administered quickly enough. Currently 17 states and the District of Columbia have changed their laws to allow wider access to naloxone. “Used in concert with ‘Good Samaritan’ laws, which grant immunity from criminal prosecution to those seeking medical help for someone experiencing an overdose, naloxone can save lives,” he said.

[USA Today]

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Write to Charlotte Alter at charlotte.alter@time.com