Medicine available in battle against heroin

The recent series of Associated Press stories about heroin abuse hasn’t offered much optimism. Our own reports of overdoses and arrests related to heroin and other opiates haven’t been uplifting, either.

But a pair of recent, related developments does offer hope for those whose loved ones have been caught in the drug’s snare.

This month, the Food and Drug Administration approved a device that can save the life of someone who has overdosed on heroin. The tool, named Evzio, delivers a single dose of naloxone, a drug which can counteract the deadly effect of heroin. Evzio, an auto-injector device, is small enough to be carried in a pocket or kept in a medicine cabinet or glovebox.

Last month, Gov. John Kasich signed a bill to allow friends and family members of opiate addicts to administer naloxone. People who administer the medicine would be immune from prosecution as long as they call 911 right before or after giving the antidote.

First responders now can carry the medicine, also known as Narcan.

These developments will be useful in stemming the rising tide of deaths due to heroin overdose. Friends, family members and first responders must learn how to administer the antidote, of course.

Education also is key to people avoiding heroin addiction in the first place. But naloxone will be an important tool – until, hopefully, it no longer is needed.