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THE OD KILLER

Jack Fishman invented a drug that reverses opioid overdoses, but he lost his stepson to heroin use anyway

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ANYTIME HER phone would ring at odd hours, Julie Stampler’s stomach would drop. Her brother Jonathan had struggled for years with drug use, and she lived in constant fear of what news might be coming next. One night in late October 2003, the phone rang at 10:30, minutes after she’d put her kids to bed, and she steeled herself. Jonathan, then 32, had been dumped unceremoniously on the doorstep of Hialeah Hospital, 10 miles from downtown Miami. It wasn’t far from her home, but the doctor on the phone said, “If you want to see him, you should hurry.” She rushed over, but her brother was already in a coma.

Over the years, Julie’s mother, Joy Fishman, had taken a “tough love” approach with her son, forcing him into drug rehab at 17, then cutting ties with him when he refused to change. When Jonathan was about 23, Joy briefly re-entered his life—she waited with him 24 hours to get emergency treatment at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami as he went into withdrawal. Joy was so incensed afterward—to her, it seemed that drug addicts were treated as the bottom of the triage barrel—that she called Channel 7News in Miami. She still remembers what her son told a reporter at the time: “If I don’t stop using heroin, I’m going to die.” Later, Jonathan was in and out of rehab. He told his sister he only snorted heroin, but in the late 1990s he was arrested for stealing needles and contracted hepatitis C—a sign of intravenous drug use. Then, in 1998, he cleaned up again and worked for the next few years as a drug counselor.

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