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Feds Override California To Aid Inmates With Drug Overdoses

(AP) - A federal judge is overriding a California state law to help combat a growing problem of inmates dying from drug overdoses.

U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson on Friday approved waiving state law to allow licensed vocational nurses to administer the overdose antidote naloxone. The antidote can reverse respiratory failures from opioid overdoses.

A federal receiver says drug overdoses are among the leading causes of deaths in California state prisons, killing an average of 17 inmates each year. That's triple the national prison drug overdose death rate.

California law says licensed vocational nurses can only inject patients when they are ordered to do so by a doctor. But the 1,800 nurses are often the first responders to medical problems within the prison system.

The state agreed to waive that requirement.