Preventing a midair scare: FAA considering opioid overdose reversal drug requirement on planes

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WASHINGTON -- The Federal Aviation Administration is considering requiring planes to carry drugs used to reverse opioid overdoses.

The FAA has required every plane to carry some form of emergency medical kit since 1986.

The kits include medications such as nitroglycerin tablets to treat chest pains, diphenhydramine injections to treat allergies and an injection used to treat low blood sugar. Flights carrying at least 30 passengers also must have an automated external defibrillator.

Now some lawmakers want airlines to add Naloxone to those medical kits.

Rhode Island Rep. Jim Langevin is urging the FAA to follow the congressional recommendations made in August. Those recommendations come after an airline passenger died from an overdose while flying from Boston to Los Angeles in July.

"I think the airlines need to be prepared for any type of emergency," Langevin said.

A group of lawmakers joined Langevin and sent a letter to the FAA in August. It asks the administration to look at including Naloxone in emergency kits on flights.

Recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show more than 70,000 people have died from drug overdose deaths in the US. Experts say Naloxone could have saved many of their lives.

"Naloxone is blocking or reversing the effects of opiates," said Dr. Zeina Saliba, an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at George Washington University. "It is absolutely important because it is life-saving."

Airlines are already allowed to carry Naloxone in medical kits under current law. The request made by US Rep. Langevin would require airlines to carry the drug.

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