NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There has been a surprising backlash against the effort to make a lifesaving drug more widely available.
The drug is Narcan and it can help heroin users survive an overdose, but some complain that it also serves to enable addiction.
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, this week a pharmacy on Staten Island decided to help fight the borough’s heroin epidemic by offering Naloxone – commonly called Narcan without charge.
The heroin antidote can revive overdose victims.
To the pharmacy’s surprise critics took to Facebook.
“How is this helping? They pickup their free Narcan and go get another one,” one commenter said.
“Disgusting, let’s give this to junkies for free so they can get high again a few hours later,” another added.
But recovering addict Marco DiDonna disagreed.
“It bothers me when people say let a drug addict die. I didn’t want to die every time I did overdose, I just wasn’t ready to get clean,” he said.
DiDonna needed Narcan seven times during his years using heroin.
Many addicts need to be saved repeatedly, but critics have pointed to the arrest of Jonathan Hayes in North Carolina who was allegedly high on heroin when he caused a crash that killed a toddler.
It turns out Hayes had been saved by Narcan four times in recent months.
“This addict plowed into the rear of a family’s car and didn’t stop, so let’s save them from a self-induced OD so they can kill an innocent? Let’s save children instead,” one critic posted on Facebook.
State Assemblyman Ron Castorina Jr. (R-Staten Island) said making Narcan more available is one part of a strategy that includes attacking the heroin supply and following up with addicts to get them into treatment.
“We’re not just throwing Narcan at people, we’re doing other things to help rehabilitate people,” he explained.
DiDonna said the first few times he needed Narcan in 2010, things were different.
“There was really no follow-up. Every time I got hit with Narcan there was no follow-up,” he said.