Crime & Justice

Among two ‘heroes,’ woman fights to stop US overdose deaths

Miami, Dec 6 (EFE).- As the mother of a heroin victim and widow of a scientist who developed the antidote for overdoses, Joy Stampler is a staunch defender of drug decriminalization and treatment for addicts in the United States, overwhelmed by the opioid crisis.

“Even drug dealers should have it with them,” Stampler said with a container of naloxone in hand at the beginning of an interview with EFE in Miami Beach, where she lives.

Her late husband, Jack Fishman, was one of the scientists who developed naloxone, marketed as Narcan and used worldwide, mainly in the form of a nasal spray, to save the lives of those who overdose.

Seeing how the person who seems dead “resurrects” in a matter of seconds makes narcan look like magic, said Stampler, who said that if in 2003 it had been available to the public, her son Jonathan could be by her side today.

“The death of my son made me realize I had to save the lives of others,” said the woman, calling him and her husband “heroes” that inspire her.

Stampler said she and her daughter Julie make no profit from the sales of Narcan, as the product is not patented.

Narcan is endorsed by the US Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization and “has no side effects whatsoever,” she said.

The mother and daughter have been advocating for years that not only paramedics and police who patrol the streets should carry Narcan spray, but also civil organizations, institutions and even individuals.

Although the more than 100,000 overdose deaths recorded in the United States from May 2020 to April 2021 – 28.5 percent more than in the same period of 2019-2020 – are a painful test of the importance of having an antidote, the price of Narcan at $ 95 is also a problem.

According to provisional data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids and mainly fentanyl, one of the substances used by traffickers to mix with heroin, were responsible for almost two-thirds of the country’s overdose deaths.

It’s a growing tragedy even though tools exist today to prevent many of those deaths, Stampler said.

There is not only naloxone, but also suboxone, used to treat opioid addiction, as well as reactive plasters that determine if and how much fentanyl opioids contain before they’re consumed to adjust the dosage and avoid overdoses. EFE


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