The opioid crisis has reached dangerous heights. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2016, 63,632 people died from drug overdoses in the U.S. About two-thirds of those deaths were from a prescription drug or an opioid.
Like the rest of the country, Florida has been overwhelmed by the opioid crisis. In Sarasota County, death from accidental overdose was up 24.2 percent from 2015 to 2016.
Fire and police departments are on the front lines of the epidemic. When they arrive on the scene of an overdose, they usually inject the person with naloxone. Naloxone is a drug that works to revives people who overdose and attempts to get them breathing again.
For people who have overdosed, the drug is crucial. It is the only drug that can reverse the effect of an opioid overdose in time to save someone’s live.
While the demand for naloxone has increased, so too has the price. According to WLRN Public Radio and Television, Miami Fire Rescue spent $9 for a naloxone dose in 2013, and in 2016, the same amount of naloxone cost the department $40. That is increase of nearly 350 percent.
For fire and police departments trying to stem the tide of overdoses, it adds up to huge costs. Miami Fire Rescue bought 4,500 doses of naloxone in 2016. That means the department spent $180,000 on naloxone alone.
Some senators have reached out to pharmaceutical companies asking for information about pricing for naloxone. Many of the companies have been mum on the topic, while others have pointed to donations they have made to public agencies. So far, no pharmaceutical companies have offered to decrease prices.
For fire and police departments that need the drug so badly, they will continue to pay the increased price. Not buying the naloxone would mean more Floridians succumbing to overdoses. With an end to the opioid crisis nowhere in sight, that is simply not an option for first responders.