The nasal spray that saved the life of multi-million selling American pop star Demi Lovato should be carried by every police officer in North Wales, according to the region’s policing boss.
The 25-year-old Grammy-nominated singer and actor, a star of X Factor USA, collapsed after a suspected overdose at her Hollywood home in July and was revived by a paramedic using a naloxone spray.
Now North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones has joined the campaign to have all police officers equipped with the spray which is used as an antidote to opiate drug overdoses of substances like heroin, fentanyl and prescription painkillers.
He said: “In the past delivering an antidote to a heroin overdose involved giving an injection and I can understand the reluctance of police officers to administering what is a medical procedure.
“But naloxone can be given on the scene of a suspected opiate overdose with a simple nasal spray and in a country where there are well over 1,000 deaths a year from this kind of overdose it makes sense.
“Police officers are in the business of helping people and by allowing our officers in North Wales and elsewhere in the UK to carry naloxone sprays we would be saving lives in a country where far too many are lost to overdoses.”
Mr Jones, a former police inspector with North Wales Police, is backing the campaign by Derbyshire PCC Hardyal Dhindsa, the Association of PCC’s Alcohol and Substance Misuse Lead.
Mr Dhindsa said: “The increased threat of super-strength opiates such as Fentanyl and Carfentanyl, which can cause an accidental overdose even for those with a higher opioid resistance, further highlights how providing an effective first response to these overdoses is only going to get more important in the coming years.
“A key tool to preventing these deaths from overdose is the opioid-suppressant naloxone. This drug is used to inhibit the effects of opiates, such as heroin and morphine, and can stop an overdose in its tracks, providing a crucial window for getting medical assistance to the patient.”
Naloxone acts by preventing opiates, which affect the brain’s control of respiration, from slowing or even shutting down breathing, the most common cause of drug-related death.
It can be given with a simple nasal spray and has been listed by the World Health Organisation as an essential medicine and is recommended by health experts at the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs and Public Health England on the basis of the difference it has made and the lives it has saved both at home and abroad.
Arfon Jones added: “One third of all European drug related deaths happen in the UK and many of these are as a result of overdoes of heroin and other opiates and as police officers are often the first on the scene of such cases it makes sense that they should be able to give the simple treatment that can make a life-saving difference.
“Time is critical in these incidents and so police officers need to be given the tools to protect the public.
“Up until three years ago it could only be given by injection but now nasal sprays are available and even if the person concerned hasn’t taken an opiate naloxone won’t have an effect or cause harm.”