Mass. teens attempt to buy Narcan at pharmacy

The teens didn't find the drug at CVS, but did spark a quick medical response

Andover Townsman

ANDOVER, Mass. — Two teens attempting to purchase a drug intended to combat a heroin overdose triggered a fast police response last week that ended in one of the youths being rushed to the hospital from downtown Andover.

Police were called to Main Street at 10:38 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10, after an employee at CVS at the corner of Main and Chestnut streets reported “a male subject just left the store saying his friend was overdosing on heroin,” according to police dispatcher notes.

The two 18-year-old males from Andover were at the store to purchase Narcan, “a remedy for somebody who’s overdosing on heroin,” police Lt. Edward Guy said.

The drug, known more formally by the Federal Drug Administration as naloxone, works as an opiate blocker to stop overdoses dead in their tracks, according to Guy.

“Instead of having to go to the hospital, they were just trying to see if they could get it there,” Guy said. “I’ve seen it a few times in my career, where the paramedics show up to someone who is overdosing, and they give them the injection and the person comes back.”

But the two teens, whose identities were not released by police due to the medical nature of the call, didn’t find the drug at CVS, Guy said. They left and started walking south on Main Street when police were sent to the scene.

Guy said when officer David Carriere located the two teens in the area of Main and Locke streets, he observed one of them holding the other up as they walked.

“That subject said his friend was overdosing on heroin, and he was walking him back home,” Guy said, adding Carriere was told by the friend that the youth “had injected a little under a gram” of the drug.

Carriere, a veteran of area substance abuse units who Guy said is familiar with the signs of drug activity, radioed for the Fire Department to respond with an ambulance. The teen was taken to Lawrence General Hospital for treatment, and his father was notified.

Andover ambulances currently offer basic life support services only, so they aren’t equipped with Narcan, Fire Chief Mike Mansfield said. Ambulances with advanced life support services and training, like those from Lawrence General Hospital, are required to carry Narcan.

Guy said police did know what happened to the teen after he was brought to the hospital.

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