This is an unbelievable statement from one of our top medical advisors. Heroin overdoses kill many people; there is a cheap rescue option, though, kits called Narcan that cost a mere $9.50 and allow people to save lives. The Bush administration opposes their distribution.
Dr. Bertha Madras, deputy director of the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy, opposes the use of Narcan in overdose-rescue programs.
“First of all, I don’t agree with giving an opioid antidote to non-medical professionals. That’s No. 1,” she says. “I just don’t think that’s good public health policy.”
Madras says drug users aren’t likely to be competent to deal with an overdose emergency. More importantly, she says, Narcan kits may actually encourage drug abusers to keep using heroin because they know overdosing isn’t as likely.
Madras says the rescue programs might take away the drug user’s motivation to get into detoxification and drug treatment.
Hang on there…Bertha doesn’t like non-medical professionals having access to an antidote? Does she also tut-tut the availability of defibrillators in places where someone without a medical degree might use them to save a life?
And it just gets worse. She opposes saving lives because watching a friend go into delirium, spasm, turn blue, and die in front of you is a pretty good deterrent to drug use. Even better, if you turn blue and die you won’t be repeating your filthy drug habits ever again — the War on Drugs chalks up a win! We have a public health official advocating more deaths among victims of drug abuse as part of their compassionate approach to improving the health of our citizens.
Hey, here’s another suggestion: let’s stop teaching people the Heimlich maneuver. Not only does it put a medical procedure in the hands of mere non-medical professionals, watching a few fat people in your local McDonalds choke and die, turning purple, thrashing on the floor, and clawing their throats, would be an excellent salutary lesson in the dangers of gluttony and poor dietary habits.
(hat tip to Abel)