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Mother of Heroin Overdose Victim Spreads the Word About Life-Saving Drug

Law makes it easier to get access to emergency doses of Narcan, but many people remain unaware of new NJ law

Patty DiRenzo
Credit: Emma Lee/WHYY
Patty DiRenzo, whose son Sal died of a heroin overdose in 2010, holds a vial of the drug naloxone, which can help prevent overdose deaths.

Patty DiRenzo’s son Sal died of a heroin overdose in 2010. She doesn’t want that to happen to any other mother.

And that’s why the New Jersey woman is trying to make the medical community and family members of drug users more aware of the Overdose Protection Act -- and the fact that carrying a vial of the drug naloxone, commonly called Narcan, can help prevent overdose deaths. Camden police, for example, have saved dozens of lives by administering emergency doses of the drug.

But DiRenzo and other advocates say many of the people authorized to prescribe or administer the drug still aren’t even aware of the law signed by Gov. Chris Christie last year. It gives doctors wider authority to prescribe the drug and protects them – just as it shields bystanders and family members who try to save someone who has overdosed – from lawsuits.

Read and listen to the full report by Laura Benshoff of WHYY/NewsWorks, a partner of NJ Spotlight.

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