WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Narcan is a drug used to immediately reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
“I think we administered a little over 300 doses last year, and in 2015, it was relatively the same,” says Scott Hadley.
Sedgwick County EMS Director Scott Hadley says his crews have been administering Narcan steadily over the last several years.
In 2015 he says they used the opioid reversal drug around 315 times. In 2014, 179 times. Already this year, they used it 58 times, though Hadley says sometimes they use Narcan, and later learn the individual was not having an opioid overdose.
The community has seen a rise in opioid related deaths. In 2011, Sedgwick County saw three heroin deaths. That steadily increased to 21 in 2015. Deaths from other opioids rose from 104 in 2011 to 141 in 2015.
Right now, Kansas lawmakers are set to vote on a bill that would allow law enforcement, pharmacists, and bystanders to administer the drug in addition to first responders.
“From our perspective, it is a good thing for our community,” says Hadley.
And as the drug is used more and more, the costs have risen.
“I know we have experienced over the last year we used to pay around $7 a dose, it is up to $39 a dose now, that is what we pay for it,” says Hadley.
In past years, Hadley says the department would pay around $2,100 a year for the drug, but now they are on pace to pay nearly $12,000 a year. But Hadley says there is no price tag on saving lives.
“The other hand of it is, what is the risk of not having it available? For that particular a patient it would be well worth that investment obviously to have that medication in the first responders hand if it is going to save someone’s life,” says Hadley.
Hadley says if the bill passes bystanders, pharmacists and other first responders would be trained and also told to immediately call 911 if they administer the drug.