Some police carrying special drug to reverse overdoses

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Someone in the U.S. dies every 19 minutes from a drug overdose.

And now, some police departments across the country are hoping to lower this startling statistic by carrying a new weapon on their belt - a drug called Narcan.

Narcan is an opioid antigen that can reverse the effects of even a severe overdose in just minutes.

It's been around since the '60s, but it's never been used by law enforcement before, only paramedics or medical personnel.

But some officers argue waiting for the ambulance could be the difference between life and death for a patient.

ABC 17s News couldn't find any police or sheriff's departments in Mid-Missouri that are carrying the Narcan yet, but that doesn't mean it's out of the question.

Todd Burke has been a paramedic police officer in the Boone County area for 30 years.  He's administered it to patients near death several times.

"It looks magical the way it works," Burke said. "You go from having an unresponsive person, practically in a coma, and within 1-2 minutes they're wide awake."

He said the drug is highly effective, and could be a good idea as an option for police officers to use.

"The first thing we have to do is decide if there is a legitimate need to train the officers to use it," he said.

But he doesn't think there is a great need in Columbia.

"The medical response time is very rapid so that might not be something we need here in Columbia," Burke said. "But if you get 10-15 miles outside of the area, well..."

Burke said he didn't think it would take much time or money to train officers to administer the antigen. 

But there are downsides to consider too.

"If a person just spent $500 or $1,000 on a high and you turn it off and they wake up sober, they could be angry and the potential for assault is high," Burke said.

Right now, Narcan can be administered via a shot, an IV, or a nasal spray.

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