Iowa overdose deaths drop significantly in past 2 years

Scott County led the state of Iowa in overdose deaths as recently as 2014.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A state official credits increased use of overdose antidotes for a decline in deaths due to heroin and pain pills in Iowa.

A report released by the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy on Thursday shows the number of pain-pill overdose deaths jumped from 11 in 2003 to 77 in 2013, but fell to 42 in 2014, and 43 last year.

The number of heroin overdose deaths quadrupled from five in 2009 to 20 in 2013, and then fell to 15 in 2015.

Steve Lukan, director of the office, tells The Des Moines Register that emergency medical responders and police officers have more training and experience in how to recognize and respond to overdoses.

He says more first responders also carry antidotes, such as naloxone, that can counteract the effects of narcotic overdoses.