BLOOMINGTON – Opioid overdoses continue to plague Central Illinois. That’s why first responders are equipped with a drug to prevent a death if they arrive in time. Prices for the life-saving drug “naloxone” have risen sharply in the past few years.
McLean County Coroner Dr. Kathy Davis explains, “One to me is too many. I think for Mclean County residents, 1 overdose death is too many.”
The drug naloxone can prevent some of those deaths. It reverses the effects of overdoses from opioids like heroin and prescription pain killers.
Dr. Davis told us, “Law enforcement is using it and so are all of the rescue agencies and the emergency room use it. It’s safe, it’s effective.”
Illinois police departments are required by state law to carry the drug. While it’s not a large part of a force’s budget, police departments have noticed prices going up.
In 2014, an auto injector made by Evzio was $690. It now cost $4,500. A spray version of naloxone by Ampastar is up 95%. An inject-able by Hospira is up nearly 230% to $142 dollars a dose.
Kaleo Pharma makes the Evzio injector. They explained in a statement… “In order to fully understand drug pricing and its challenges… It’s necessary to look at all aspects and parties involved… It’s important to note that patients have multiple choices for naloxone products, both branded and generic.”
Mclean County saw 19 opioid overdose deaths in 2015 and 16 last year. Most were accidental.
Dr. Davis explains, “People don’t realize that if they take an extra dose of their pain medication, it’s not like a tylenol or ibuprofen. This is an extremely potent medication.”
If you know someone struggling with opioid use, Dr. Davis says you can help save them before naloxone is needed. “If someone has a concern about addiction… A family member, a friend… Ask them to seek treatment because we want everybody’s life saved.”
Every Bloomington police officer carries narcan nasal spray while on shift. They’ve already had to use the drug once in 2017.