Mass. plans new heroin overdose program

It looks like Massachusetts is moving ahead with their narcan distribution plan. (Previous post here.)

Massachusetts officials next month will begin distributing kits to heroin addicts that include medication to treat overdoses.

Advocates say the kits will help treat overdoses quickly, safely and without fear of addiction, and will be beneficial in a state where more people die from heroin than firearms.

“It’s a remarkably safe drug,” said Dr. Peter Moyer, medical director for Boston’s fire, police, and emergency medical services. “I’ve used gallons of it in my life to treat patients.”

Heroin and other opiates killed 544 people in Massachusetts in 2005, more than double the number killed by firearms.

Strong demand and low prices make heroin a popular street drug in New England. At $5 or $6 for a small bag, heroin can cost less than a six-pack of beer.

“It’s the perfect storm in all the wrong directions. We talk about availability, price, and potency of the drug,” said Kevin Norton, president of CAB Health & Recovery Services, which will work with the state to provide Narcan in cities and towns on the North Shore.

State Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach, who started the Boston kit distribution program when he worked for the city, emphasized that treatment is still the state’s priority.

What does it mean to say that treatment is still the state’s priority? Do they have adequate treatment on demand?