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U.S. Surgeon General praises Seattle police for carrying drug to block effects of opioid drugs

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SEATTLE -- The U.S.  Surgeon General brought a campaign against prescription drug and opioid abuse to Seattle Tuesday.

Dr. Vivek Murthy met with Seattle police bike patrol officers to learn about SPD’s program to carry naloxone, the drug sold under the brand name Narcan that blocks or reverses the effects of opioid medications.

It could help save the lives of overdose victims.

“We have officers who are taking initiative to do something that’s not necessarily in their job description,” Murthy said, “but which is part of their overall mission to save and protect lives.”

In March, the Seattle Police Department, together with the Marah Project and the University of Washington, began equipping bike officers with nasal naloxone in an effort to decrease opioid overdose deaths.

The department is now collecting data to evaluate the impact of officers carrying the drug.

After meeting with some of Seattle’s finest, its platoon of bike cops, the Surgeon General strapped on a helmet, and hopped on a two-wheeler for a spin with the officers on city streets.

Murthy is leading the "Turn the Tide" national campaign.  He commended the Seattle Police Department for taking steps to prevent deadly drug overdoses.

“And they’re doing it in a creative way,” Murthy said.  “They’re taking a risk.  They’re trying something new.  And that’s actually something we need more of, that kind of initiative to participate and go all-in, helping to end the opioid crisis.”

The campaign’s goal is to work with health care professionals to improve prescribing practices and prevent the misuse of drugs.

It also aims to provide the public with information to protect families from opioid misuse, and to change cultural perceptions of addiction so it's seen not as a moral failure, but a chronic illness.