Cost of Narcan taking a bite out of emergency responders' budgets

Posted at 12:30 AM, Apr 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-13 15:37:57-04

DAYTON, Ky. -- The Bellevue-Dayton Fire Department had spent $5,000 on Narcan by the hundredth day of 2017, and Fire Chief Michael Auteri predicted demand for the live-saving substance would only increase in coming months.

It's a financial challenge for Auteri's department as well as the cities it serves, he said. As stronger drug cocktails, many containing fentanyl and carfentanyl, appear in the Greater Cincinnati area, overdose victims can need up to five doses of Narcan to be revived, according to Auteri.

Each of those five doses costs $40 -- meaning an especially severe overdose can take a $200 bite out of the fire department's finances.

RELATED: Public health official says officers need to 'up their Narcan'

"We have to get creative," he said. "Just figuring out a way we can help to ease the blow to the city's budget, to my budget, get people the help they need."

The department will need $10,000 more in the coming fiscal year to continue delivering that help, Auteri said. 

Firefighter and paramedic Mike Gullett said recent spates of overdoses feel like signs of another swell in the opioid epidemic.

"The heroin epidemic is going above and beyond what we're used to seeing," he said.

The group NKY Hates Heroin presented the fire department with a $4,000 check that should get them enough Narcan for the rest of the fiscal year, Auteri said Thursday.