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November 26, 2019

Rep. Trone calls on airlines to carry naloxone, NARCAN to help fight opioid epidemic

Credit: WJLA, Tim Barber

Congressman David Trone’s nephew Ian was a victim of addiction.

“You can be dead in a heartbeat and he died at age 24– alone in a hotel room,” said Rep. Trone (D- Maryland). “He died two and a half years ago, right around this time of the year, of a fentanyl overdose.”

Since Ian’s death, the Maryland politician has had a vendetta against the opioid epidemic.

Now, as 4.45 million Americans are expected to fly during the Thanksgiving holiday, Congressman Trone is sending a letter to the airlines, urging them to carry the lifesaving drugs such as naloxone or Narcan, which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

“For the regulation to change it will take two, three, four [years for that to happen]. It’s government bureaucracy at its worst,” said Rep. Trone.

After a passenger overdosed on a Delta flight last summer, many airlines (including Delta) agreed to carry the drugs on their planes.

Trone’s office said Spirit Airlines, Allegiant Air, Southwest, and JetBlue did not agree. (See Trone’s letter to Southwest below, also signed by seven other Members of Congress.)

“I would say all business has a responsibility to their communities. That is called good business,” said Rep. Trone. “We have lost 400,000 people to opioids since the year 2000. Two hundred are dying a day.”

Southwest Airlines provided ABC7 the following statement:

Thank you for reaching out to us. Southwest puts no priority higher than the safety of our Customers and Employees, and we operate with comprehensive medical kits that meet all of the current regulations. We follow guidance outlined in Appendix A of the Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 121 to determine which medical supplies travel onboard our aircraft, and NARCAN (naloxone) is not currently on the list of required provisions.

Allegiant Air provided ABC7 the following statement:

While we don’t carry Naloxone on our flights at this time, we are closely following the FAA’s process as it considers adding it to commercial airline medical kits. The safety and security of our passengers is our highest priority. Our inflight medical kits contain the most common items needed during a flight. That includes antihistamines, acetaminophen, injectable epinephrine, nitroglycerin tablets and atropine, among other medications. Our crews are trained to use the medical kits only under the direct order of MedLink, our in-flight medical consultant. Allegiant flies short nonstop routes of four hours or less in the contiguous U.S., so in the unlikely event of a severe inflight medical emergency, we would be able to land quickly to ensure proper treatment is administered by medical professionals.

The Federal Aviation Administration told ABC7:

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.