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Police receive special nasal spray to combat fentanyl overdoses

Police receive special nasal spray to combat fentanyl overdoses
(Symbolic image)

The drug is used as an antidote for poisoning with opioids such as fentanyl and is a standard part of the equipment of US police units. In Austria, the departments specializing in combating drugs are now also receiving the spray bottles, the Interior Ministry confirmed according to APA research.

Fentanyl is considered to be around 50 times stronger than heroin and accidental contact can have serious consequences – including respiratory arrest. “Inhaling large amounts in particular poses a risk,” the ministry said. But skin contact can also pose a risk. In the USA, which is plagued by the opioid crisis, the drug is now the most common cause of death among people between the ages of 18 and 49.

The New York police, among others, and numerous authorities from other US states therefore already have years of experience in dealing with naloxone. The situation in Austria is different from that in the USA, as Daniel Lichtenegger, drug coordinator in the Ministry of the Interior and head of the Central Office for Combating Drug-Related Crime in the Federal Criminal Police Office, explained. “But of course we want to be prepared so as not to lag behind.”

No use yet in Austria

According to the Interior Ministry, naloxone sprays have therefore been purchased “already in all federal states” or are in the process of being purchased. “The safety of police officers in the field is a priority,” a spokeswoman explained the reason for the project, which was launched at the end of 2023. The sprays are effective as an immediate countermeasure in the event of a pure opioid overdose, and their use is intended as part of first aid measures in emergencies.

The police officers concerned were trained for this last summer by the Chief Medical Service of the Ministry of the Interior. “If the nasal spray is used, further care or treatment by rescue workers is necessary,” it said. Specific numbers for the sprays were not given due to “the needs-based procurement of the individual state police directorates.” However, priority departments are to be equipped with naloxone.

In this context, the ministry mentioned the drug crime investigation departments in the state criminal police offices (LKA) and the Federal Criminal Police Office, the task forces for combating street crime (EGS), offices at district level, forensic investigation offices and security forces. “The agent is stored at the offices in compliance with the relevant storage instructions and is carried on duty as needed,” said the ministry. However, there has not yet been a use of the drug across Austria.

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