PHOTO BY DORA SISON
A naloxone kit of the kind carried by first responders.
New Orleans Police Department officers will begin carrying a potentially life-saving drug to reverse the effects of an opiate overdose, following more than 160 opioid-related deaths in the city in 2016.
As part of a sweeping plan
to address the “opioid epidemic,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu and city officials revealed Oct. 18 that NOPD will carry naloxone, the life-saving overdose-reversal drug. A 2016 Gambit cover story
found that no Louisiana law enforcement agency carried naloxone — locally it was only previously carried by EMS and New Orleans Fire Department first responders, despite a 2014 statewide law encouraging law enforcement to carry it.
Drug-related deaths eclipsed the number of murders in New Orleans in 2016. More than 200 people died from drug-related causes in 2016, more than double the number of similar deaths from 2015. Of last year’s drug-related deaths, 166 involved opiates, and 48 people died with the synthetic opioid fentanyl in their system.
Compare those figures to drug-related deaths in 2015: There were 13 fentanyl-related deaths that year, when there were 93 drug-related deaths overall.
Those numbers align with a national rise in drug-related deaths — which climbed to more than 50,000 in 2015. Opioids killed more than 33,000 people in 2015.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice awarded the New Orleans Health Department $298,706 to combat the spike in opioid use and support prevention efforts.
City Hall also has opened a request for proposals from Louisiana law firms to determine the roles pharmaceutical companies and distributors have had in contributing to the opioid crisis.