Massachusetts health officials say a milestone has been reached in a program that makes available a drug to stop overdoses from heroin and other opioids.
Secretary of Health and Human Services John Polanowicz said Monday that 2,000 overdoses have now been reversed in Massachusetts since the state Nalaxone distribution program began in 2007.
Nalaxone, also known as Narcan, is a nasal spray that blocks the effects of heroin and other powerful painkillers.
Under the state program, Nalaxone kits are distributed free to opioid users and to family members and friends. The kits are available in Boston and 14 other Massachusetts communities with high overdose rates.
The state program also provides referrals for long-term addiction treatment.
State Rep. Liz Malia, who co-chairs the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse, told WBUR the next step is to expand the program.
"It really should be something we're starting to look at for cities and towns across the state," Malia said. "There is no part of the state that we know of that isn't facing very serious problems around overdoses."
With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom
This program aired on September 16, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.