Cost of opioid-reversal drug adding up for Ohio law enforcement

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WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – With an increasing number of overdoses and sometimes multiple rounds of the opioid-reversal drug Narcan (naloxone) being used, law enforcement says the cost of Narcan kits is adding up.

Ohio police departments have been using the kits for a few years but now, they’re going through one a day in some places.

“Just in Warren City alone, our Warren City Police Department has used 59 kits so far this year,” said Kathy Parrilla with the Trumbull County Health Department.

She says ten police departments, as well as the Warren Fire Department, are trained to administer the drug.

Last year, Trumbull County’s health department gave out 96 Narcan kits and this year, it’s already given out 129.

On Saturday, Warren Police gave two doses of Narcan to a woman but it wasn’t enough. EMS had to give her five more rounds.

The previous weekend, police found a woman hanging out of her trunk in a Taco Bell parking lot. She was revived with 16 doses of Narcan while her two children sat in the backseat.

“This type of addiction to heroin is so bad, they’re actually turning blue and stopping breathing,” said Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene.

He describes an incident from last week where a man overdosed three times within a four-day period. He was brought back twice, but couldn’t be revived the third time.

“They’re being brought back and saved, and that doesn’t seem like that’s enough to scare them to stop using,” Greene said.

Parrilla says addiction is a disease that changes the chemistry in the brain.

“It’s not something people wake up every day and say, ‘This is how I want to feel every single day, I want to crave this drug. I can’t be without this drug, otherwise I’ll get physically ill.’ No one wants to feel like that.”

The price tag for Narcan varies, anywhere from $60 to $90, but funding to pay for it comes from multiple sources.

Ohio’s two-year budget has $1 million marked for funding, which breaks down to $500,000 each year. The money goes to the state’s Mental Health and Addiction Services.

Every county health department can apply for money and is guaranteed a minimum of $1,800 to buy kits for law enforcement.

In the last fiscal year, Mahoning County received $8,641, Columbiana County got $3,912 and Trumbull received $7,629. Trumbull has already used most of its money this year, and funding only started a few months ago.

“We have funding from Trumbull Memorial Health Foundation and they have given us money two years in a row. This is our second year with Project DAWN [Deaths Avoided With Naloxone],” Parrilla said.

County mental health and recovery boards also help out with funding, and Sheriff Greene uses money from drug seizures for the kits.

“Can’t think of a better expenditure then to buy the Narcan kits out of that fund,” he said.

People might see giving someone multiple rounds of Narcan as a way of enabling the person to keep using, but Parrilla doesn’t see it that way.

“Maybe that fifth time is when that person will decide to change their life.”

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