TAUNTON, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com) -- It's becoming deadlier than cocaine, and it's getting cheaper to buy.
Senator Edward Markey took aim at a recent spike in heroin overdoses plaguing communities nationwide. Taunton, Brockton and Quincy are some of the hardest hit communities locally.
"It's created a pathway and an access on a very inexpensive basis to those who are vulnerable to the drug. And ultimately has led to a dramatic spike in a very brief period of time," Markey said.
Flanked by the White House's drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, Markey laid out a plan that would equip fire and police departments nationwide with the heroin antidote known as Narcan, and create more detox beds for addicts,
Markey also plans to introduce a Good Samaritan law that would protect people who try to help addicts while overdosing from lawsuits.
Former NBA star basketball player and Fall River native Chris Herren told a packed Taunton firehouse that Narcan saved his life years ago.
"I was found on a side of the road, by myself, crashed into a fence when Narcan was administered to me and I was brought back to life," Herren said.
John Greene's son Evan idolized Herren in high school. Ironically, that's when he got hooked on Percocet painkillers.
My son started out with Percocets and he's been running with that for years, since he was like 15 years old and then he graduated to heroin," Greene said.
Greene kept Narcan at home, but Evan's friends didn't have it the night he overdosed.
The teenager died just last month.
"He went into cardiac arrest twice. And if they had that it could have saved him," Greene said.
To understand how serious the problem is in Taunton, the fire chief told FOX 25's Crystal Haynes that they responded to two calls for drug overdoses before lunchtime on Monday. In one of those cases a person was saved, they say, because of Narcan.
But the drug has its critics who say that Narcan makes it easy for addicts to keep using because they know they can just get an antidote.
Kerlikowske said drug addiction is a chronic disease and relapse is a part of that.
"[In] Quincy, where they've saved over 200 people, only a handful of those 200 people have received Narcan more than once," Kerlikowske said.
There have been 30 overdose deaths from opiates in Massachusetts this year according to unofficial estimates from the Department of Public Health.