FAA may require Narcan on passenger planes

Call 12 For Action
With Narcan available over the counter, advocates say everyone should carry it

(WPRI) — The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is considering a plan that would require airlines to add overdose-reversing drugs to emergency medical kits on passenger planes.

In an Oct. 8 letter to members of Congress, the FAA said it is “reviewing the best way for 121 air carriers to include opioid antagonists as part of the emergency medical kits carried aboard their fleets.”

Congressman Jim Langevin sent a letter to the FAA in August urging the agency to make the change.

“As opioid overdoses continue to claim thousands of lives each year, we must ensure access to life-saving treatments both on the ground and in the air,” Langevin said in a statement. “I am pleased the FAA shares my concerns on this issue.”

Currently, onboard emergency medical kits are required to include several items including a stethoscope, CPR masks, and antihistamine tablets.

Though Narcan is not mandatory, airlines may choose to carry the drug.

In a statement to Eyewitness News, the FAA said, “Each airline has its own protocol for dealing with medical emergencies, including a possible drug overdose. At this time, Narcan is not one of the mandatory drugs included in the Emergency Medical Kit each airline must carry, but many airlines have customized their kits with additional medications, and some may contain Narcan.”

Narcan is the brand name of naloxone.

The FAA does not track in-flight overdose incidents, so it is unclear how often this type of emergency happens.

Susan Campbell (scampbell@wpri.com) is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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