Delta flights to carry overdose-reversal drug

Checking a suitcase on Delta just got a bit more expensive. (Photo: Delta Air Lines via CNN)

Delta Air Lines says it will carry naloxone, a medication that reverses an overdose after the fact, after a passenger tweeted that a man died aboard one of its flights.

Twitter user Lynne Lyman said the passenger passed out in the bathroom with a needle in his arm during a flight from Boston to Los Angeles. The flight attendants, a doctor and passengers did all they could to save the young man’s life, she recalled. In a tweet, Lyman said a passenger broke the bathroom door and pulled the man out. In the aftermath of the incident, Lyman urged Delta to start stocking its medical kits with naloxone, a medication often sold under the brand name Narcan.

Delta did not provide details about the incident, citing privacy concerns, CNN affiliate KLEW reported. But the airline did say there was a medical emergency aboard Flight 2531 from Boston to Los Angeles on Saturday, according to KLEW.

The Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner told CNN it is requesting additional testing to determine the passenger’s cause of death.

Starting this fall, Delta will make naloxone available in parts of its emergency medical kits, said Michael Thomas, a Delta spokesman. The company will join United, Frontier and Alaska Airlines who have already made Narcan available onboard.

“Earlier this year, Delta made the decision to improve our on board medical capabilities by including Narcan to its Enhanced Emergency Medical Kits,” Thomas said. “… The process to provision Narcan takes some time and putting it on the aircraft begins this fall.”

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, told CNN the medication is life saving.

“When we don’t have the tools to save someone it’s gut wrenching. It’s devastating,” Nelson said. “Oftentimes they’re [people] on a plane traveling to a treatment center and they do not go to that treatment center sober.”

Last year, the Association of Flight Attendants called for the Federal Aviation Administration to include Naloxone nasal spray to respond to opioid onboard overdoses.

“Passenger medical emergencies have and will continue to include opioid overdoses. Unfortunately, passengers may die from opioid overdoses on airplanes from the sheer lack of access to naloxone,” the AFA said in a post on the site.

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