Grandview Police to carry medicine that reverses drug overdoses

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GRANDVIEW, Mo. -- Police in Grandview are the first in the metro to carry a life-saving medicine in their patrol vehicles. It's a nasal spray that can reverse overdoses from heroin or prescription pain pills such as oxycodone.

"Where we used to go two or three years before we'd see someone with heroin, we've seen three or four in the last month," Sgt. Ryan Sharp said.

The nasal spray that can actually reverse an opioid overdose is Narcan. The generic name is naloxone. It knocks opioids off receptors in the brain. Ambulances carry naloxone. Sgt. Sharp says the idea in equipping police officers is that they can often get to the scene faster.

"The faster we can counteract the effects of it, the sooner someone can start breathing again. The oxygen gets back to the brain and it lessens their chance of having long-term damage," Sgt. Sharp said.

That can also lower the chances of death. Sgt. Sharp says users, their friends or family should not hesitate to call 9-1-1 because they fear arrest.

"We're not looking to punish people for calling 9-1-1 when they have an emergency. This is strictly about saving lives," he said.

Access to naloxone is increasing in Missouri in another way. This year, Governor Jay Nixon signed a bill that allows pharmacists to dispense the nasal spray to people without a prescription.

Kansas law does not allow that, nor does it allow police to administer naloxone. But there is a push to change that.