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Recovering addict, mother who lost son support Surgeon General's call for more Narcan carriers

Recovering addict, mother who lost son support Surgeon General's call for more Narcan carriers
Posted at 6:23 PM, Apr 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-05 18:23:14-04

CINCINNATI – Amy Parker supports the Surgeon General’s call for more Americans to carry Naloxone, commonly known as Narcan.

So does Amy Russ.

They know first-hand the pain of opioid addiction first-hand and the need for the life-saving drug.

“I have struggled with addiction for many, many years — 16 years to be exact.  I have now been in recovery for more than six years,” said Parker.

Twice revived with Narcan, Parker now helps others at Brightview Medical Centers and knows she’s lucky.

“I would be dead.  I wouldn’t be in a happy, healthy marriage.  My children wouldn’t even exist,” Parker said.

Russ’s son, Eric, died of an overdose in 2015.

“It wouldn’t have helped him at the time because it was too late by the time I found him,” Russ said.

Since then, Russ carries two doses of Narcan in her purse. She got it free from Hamilton County Public Health.

“It’s more likely that you’re going to come across somebody sometime in your lifetime that’s overdosing than not,” Russ said.

Public Health has given out 6,000 doses of Narcan this year through a donation from the drug maker and private funding for distribution.

The data shows that every single day in the U.S. 115 people die of opioid overdoses.  That’s one every 12 ½  minutes.

“Most of us have somebody in their circle of family and friends that have this problem,” said Tim Ingram, Hamilton County Public Health commissioner.  “And if you’re employed, your work place is being touched by this problem.

At Hart Phamacy in West Price Hill, you can get Narcan without a prescription.

The kind the health department hands out costs $125. An injectable form can run several thousand dollars. The atomizer that first responders were using has doubled in price.

“A year ago, this was about $20 - $25 and it’s increased to about $50 a dose,” said Hart pharmacist Sarah Priestle.

Insurance can pay much of the cost, Priestle said.

“Ohio Medicaid covers it 100 percent — there are no copays on those,” she said. “Commercial insurance. I’ve seen it $50 down to $10.  So, some of these insurance companies are covering it for free.  It really depends on your benefits.”

Not everyone agrees Narcan is the answer. Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones says there’s no way his deputies will carry the drug. That mystifies Parker.

“Why would you refuse if you have something that would save a person’s life?” she said.  ‘It baffles me that somebody would say no to a medication that saves someone’s life.”

The key with Narcan is to keep people alive and get them into treatment so they can rejoin society in a productive manner. 

SEE WCPO's complete coverage: "Conquering Addiction."