[Skip to Navigation]
January 8, 2020

Overdose Reversals Save Lives–Period

Author Affiliations
  • 1Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California
JAMA Psychiatry. 2020;77(4):339-340. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.4000

In early 2019, representatives of the US Department of Justice sued to prevent a nonprofit group from opening a supervised consumption facility in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This case, United States v Safehouse, has drawn considerable attention given its implications for US drug policies; however, one exchange during an August 2019 hearing was particularly disconcerting. After Safehouse president Jose Benitez testified that staff affiliated with a syringe exchange program had reversed more than 500 opioid overdoses with naloxone in 2018, William McSwain, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, contested whether these overdose reversals counted as “saved lives.” Arguing that a naloxone recipient might use substances later and die anyways, McSwain said, “You’re saying you saved a life when, in fact, someone just died.”

Add or change institution
Limit 200 characters
Limit 25 characters
Conflicts of Interest Disclosure

Identify all potential conflicts of interest that might be relevant to your comment.

Conflicts of interest comprise financial interests, activities, and relationships within the past 3 years including but not limited to employment, affiliation, grants or funding, consultancies, honoraria or payment, speaker's bureaus, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, royalties, donation of medical equipment, or patents planned, pending, or issued.

Err on the side of full disclosure.

If you have no conflicts of interest, check "No potential conflicts of interest" in the box below. The information will be posted with your response.

Not all submitted comments are published. Please see our commenting policy for details.

Limit 140 characters
Limit 3600 characters or approximately 600 words