The opiate antidote Narcan continues to help authorities revive heroin overdose victims in Ocean County, where the drug problem has become an epidemic.

Townsquare Media NJ

County prosecutor Joe Coronato said at least 54 lives have been saved using the nasal spray since April, when police officers first started administering it.

Although the prescription drug can be injected using an EpiPen, Coronato said most law enforcement officials prefer using the inhalable nasal spray.

"The difference between the two is when you use an EpiPen, you're piercing the skin and you also can be producing some blood; if that were the case, I don't think most police officers and law enforcement officials would be utilizing the injectable type -- that's why the spray is preferable," Coronato said. "Really what happens is, they spray this up the nostril, even if the person is not breathing. The spray does go into the membrane and it does act as an antidote to the opiates that are in the body."

He said the only negative about the nasal spray is that the person administering it cannot tell the exact dosage that's going into the body.

New Jersey is among 19 states nationwide using Narcan and seeing successful results, according to Coronato.

"Hopefully, at some point in time, it will be used in every state in the country," he said.

As far as the program reaching the federal level, Coronato said he believes there is a movement for that to happen. He said he's not sure why Narcan needs to be a prescription, since it is not a controlled dangerous substance.

"It would seem to me that, logically, if they really want to allow this to be used more widely, that what they could do is just make it over-the-counter," Coronato said, adding the only requirement should be that an individual undergo educational training to be certified to administer Narcan.