Durbin asks for help battling heroin epidemic

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CHICAGO (AP) — U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and other senators are asking the federal Health and Human Services Department for more help in battling what they say is an epidemic of heroin use.

Durbin and 20 other Democrats sent a letter this week to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell. They want the department to prioritize programs to reduce deaths from heroin and other opioid overdoses.

They also want expanded access to naloxone. It's a medication that can reverse the effects of an overdose from heroin and other drugs such as prescription painkillers.

The senators say that despite naloxone's life-saving capabilities, its use in preventing overdoses isn't widespread. They're calling on the department to draft a plan to help communities provide naloxone to first responders and medical facilities.

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