Naloxone, otherwise known as Narcan, is the drug that reverses the life-threatening effects of an opioid overdose. Narcan, in a seemingly ironic juxtaposition, is a standard part of a police officer’s tool kit along with a billy club, Taser, hand cuffs and a hand gun. Outside of the emergency department setting, police officers, along with emergency medical technicians, are trained to administer the drug under certain protocols. Naloxone has saved many lives and is now being made available to families and friends of opioid users. There are many more, however, who are not as lucky as overdoses in epidemic proportions continue.

Search any media outlet and find numerous stories of opioid drug fatalities, including one most recently in Philadelphia, where a batch of heroin was so deadly, authorities linked nine deaths to it within a 24-hour period. Four lives were saved in the Kensington Square area with the use of naloxone. Will this antidote make a dent in the number of deaths from heroin and prescription pain medications? Police have said the heroin may have been more pure or laced with another opioid, fentanyl. Because of this, the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office estimates a 25-30 percent increase in deaths this year than in 2015.

In Pennsylvania, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reported in 2015 there were at least 3,383 overdose deaths, approximately 9 deaths per day alone. This does not include many other drug-related deaths from accidents, diseases, medical complications and suicides. One in four families struggles with a substance abuse problem. Pennsylvania is not alone. The rest of the nation faces similar daunting numbers.

Litigation stemming from opioid-related cases can involve the areas of malpractice, pharmaceutical, family, or criminal law. In such cases, toxicologists often are called upon for their scientific background. Find out yourself how opioids and the antidote naloxone affect the human body and what you need to know for upcoming legal cases through PBI’s one-hour session. Read more