Naloxone

More emergency responders in New Castle County are getting access to a drug that will help them save a life.

Paramedics and police already have access to Narcan/Naloxone and use it practically every day in Delaware, according to county officials. A fire company or one of its ambulances, however, weren't previously equipped with the life-saving, overdose-countering drug.

Despite the opioid addiction having Delaware deep in its grip, the cost of the drug is prohibitive for local fire departments, with a single dose costing $80 to $90.

"The fire companies were very clear--we've looked at a lot of their budgets, and we know that the money's just not there for them to pay for such an expensive drug," said New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer.

On Monday, September 18, 2017, that changed when a local pharmacy teamed up with the county.

"Ironically, with all the global pharmacy companies here in the state, the one company that raised its hand and said, 'I want to help out' is Greenhill Pharmacy and their owner, Jay Patel," said Meyer.

Patel, who founded the independent Wilmington pharmacy a year-and-a-half ago, secured Naloxone at a fraction of the cost. In addition to having the lowest price, Patel donated $3,000 to be used to fund fire company's access to Narcan.

"We're happy that we're able to be an integral part of the community here," said Patel. "We feel it's our obligation, essentially, to help the community with this health epidemic."

Patel said he's also working to educate physicians.

"Whenever you have a prescription for an opioid medication, hand-in-hand with that you should get a prescription for Naloxone with it. For example, someone who has a peanut allergy doesn't plan to use their EpiPen, but they still have their EpiPen with them," explained Patel. "Likewise, anyone who has an opiod prescription should have the tools necessary to protect themselves against worst cases."

Thanks to the  donation, the county has been able to purchase 600 doses of Naloxone for $21,725. After Patel's donation, the remaining $18,275 balance was funded through the county and council members' discretionary funds.

"Every single member stood up and said that they wanted to contribute; two members said to me: 'If any member doesn't contribute, I'll provide the difference,' said Meyer. "In this day in age, it's really a rare example of everyone coming together to say there's a problem here and we all need to work together to address it."

"This effort may just save one life, two lives, five lives, 10 lives across our country," he said. "And so it will be worth it."

Amy Cherry is the Assistant News Director and an investigative journalist at WDEL. She joined WDEL's award-winning news team in 2010 from WBZ Newsradio 1030 in Boston and has received national accolades for reporting.