Jax Group Advocates For Overdose Prevention Treatment Now Limited In Florida
Mark Krancer came home one day to find his roommate unresponsive. He felt a surge of panic and fear when he realized that his friend was overdosing from prescription medication.
If Krancer called the police, he knew there would be trouble. Krancer was addicted to prescription medication and had several types of drugs in the home. Instead, he tried to revive his roommate by his own means. He kicked his ribs, yelled in his face and eventually threw him under a cold shower, all to no effect.
Someone called the paramedics. When they arrived, one paramedic shoved Krancer out of the way and injected his roommate with Naloxone, a drug that counters opioid overdoses.
Krancer had never heard of the drug that saved his friend’s life. It wouldn’t be the last time though.
Although Naloxone is proven to remedy the deadly effects of an overdose and completely revive a victim, it is currently illegal in Florida for anyone outside of the medical field to possess.
The reasoning behind the ban is the worry that having it available would encourage heavier drug use, since it is an antidote for overdosing.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida was one of the main states entrenched in an opioid epidemic, with prescription medications such as Oxycodone dominating the drug market.
With the increase in prescription medication abuse, overdoses became more common as well.
Following the epidemic, the Skeeterhawk Experiment was formed in Jacksonville by several people who were personally affected by opioid abuse and overdose.
One of Skeeterhawk’s main initiatives is to inform physicians and the public about Naloxone in order to appeal to Florida legislators to change the law so that non-medical persons can be prescribed the antidote.
“The issue is are we going to take the next step in Florida to prescribing other folks who may be in a position to respond to an overdose and that might require some legislative change to expand that,” said Kelly Corredor, director and co-founder of the Skeeterhawk Experiment.
Although Florida law might prevent the Skeeterhawk Experiment from acting on it's mission, there are other organizations and law enforcement agencies around the country that have similar goals.
Police officers in New York City can carry Naloxone kits with them, if they have been properly trained.
There are also advocacy groups, such as Project Lazarus in North Carolina, and the DOPE Project in San Francisco who distribute Naloxone and educate the public on its uses.
The Food and Drug Administration has allowed the release of a nasal spray, called Evzio, which easily instructs an individual on how to administer Naloxone to someone who is overdosing.
While Florida law may restrict Naloxone access to the medical field, doctors and physicians do not necessarily agree with this tactic.
Dr. Raymond Pomm, vice president of medical services at River Region Human Services, says that a debate should not exist on whether Naloxone would benefit the public.
“We know that Naloxone works extremely well. It brings people back very quickly from the brink of death and the alternative if we don’t use it is death,” Pomm said.
Pomm is so convinced of Naloxone’s effectiveness, that he says there is a nine in ten chance that it would completely revive the victim. The only thing he worries about is the stigma against those suffering from a chemical dependency is the reason why Naloxone is not allowed to be used by the public.
Corredor and the Skeeterhawk Experiment are currently in talks with physicians at the University of Florida on how they should proceed on appealing to Florida legislators.
You can follow Carter Roush on Twitter @carterroush.