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US attorney general encourages feds to carry heroin overdose antidote

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US Attorney General Eric Holder is calling for federal law enforcement agencies to train and provide their personnel with naloxone, a drug that can help reverse deadly heroin overdoses. Ideally, Holder wants to see the drug made available to anyone "who may interact with a victim of a heroin overdose" so they'll be ready to use naloxone in situations where it's warranted. Obviously that will include emergency medical personnel, though it's reasonable to assume FBI agents who regularly deal with drug users will also be trained up. "I am confident that expanding the availability of naloxone has the potential to save the lives, families and futures of countless people across the nation," Holder said in a statement. Federal agencies that fall under his directive include the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, and US Marshals Service.

The move is a first for federal law enforcement, but Holder has been pushing to make naloxone more widely available for months now. State and local authorities including the NYPD have backed the effort, which is meant to stem a worrying spike in heroin overdose deaths. The idea of providing more and more people with naloxone remains a controversial one, and Holder admits as much. "I recognize that there are numerous challenges involved in naloxone implementation," he said today, later expressing hope that officials "possess the knowledge, the skill, and the determination to forge workable solutions to these pressing concerns."