The Union County Health Department (UCHD) will be out of free Narcan kits by the end of September.
Shawn Sech, director of health promotion and planning at UCHD, said, at the time of this writing, she has only four free Narcan kits available via Project DAWN (Deaths Avoided with Naloxone). She said the grant cycle has already ended, leaving the UCHD to seek other revenue sources for funding.
“We don’t actually have a dedicated source for funding at this time,” she said. “We’re currently in the research stages of trying to find funding. When we look at projects like this, we do have some funding sources that we go to for this thing… but the issue is if (our goals) necessarily fit in their mission or vision.”
Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is a medication that can reverse an overdose caused by an opioid drug. When administered during an overdose, naloxone blocks the effects of opioids on the brain and quickly restores breathing.
President Trump declared the opioid epidemic as a national emergency in August, which Sech said made her think it’d be more likely the UCHD could see funding trickle down from the federal budget. She said the fate of funding actually making it to Ohio is one of her concerns.
She said the original funding came from a non-renewable grant, issued specifically to create a Project DAWN site. She said, though the fate of the UCHD’s is undetermined at this moment, it would be subject to following “all the parameters in the grant application.”
“It depends on how the funding comes down,” she said. “It could be based on population or death rates, but it all depends on how the funds come through to the state and what the state decides to do with them.”
Sech said the UCHD’s research process involves seeking out organizations with missions that would cater to funding more Narcan kits. She said there’s also research being done to determine Union County’s need for Narcan, which will help the department’s chances of receiving funds.
“If anyone in the general public is in need of a Narcan kit, we will still encourage them to contact us because that helps us identify the need for Narcan kits,” she said. “We will continue to research ways to fund Narcan kits until we can secure a funding source.”
Dr. Victor Trianfo, chief medical officer at Memorial Hospital, said Narcan is one of hundreds of different medicines purchased through a supply chain at the hospital. He said the hospital pays for its own Narcan supply and it hasn’t dealt with any shortages or funding problems.
He said Memorial has held Narcan for more than 20 years. Though, with more potent strains of heroin available over the years, he said the demand for Narcan has increased. However, it still hasn’t led to any shortages or other supply concerns within the hospital.
“We have been able to meet the needs of our community by purchasing it from our traditional (supplier),” he said. “It has been utilized a great deal more than it has in the past… but we have been able to obtain what is in need for our community.
Sech said a Narcan kit could cost someone from $75 to $100. Depending on the pharmacy, Narcan can be purchased either with or without insurance. Sometimes, it will require a prescription.
According to the State Ohio Board of Pharmacy, Narcan kits can be purchased without a prescription at a variety of local pharmacies.
Sech said she can put people who call the UCHD for a Narcan kit on a waiting list until more Narcan can be supplied. S
he still encourages people to put in requests, as she said it helps her define the immediate need for more Narcan within the county for the necessary grant funding.
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