COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The City of Columbus is announcing emergency funding to help fight the opiate epidemic.
City Council and Columbus Public Health (CPH) are partnering with Equitas Health to make sure Narcan, also known as Naloxone, is available to those who don’t have insurance or can’t afford it. It’s a drug that can reverse the effects of an overdose from a drug like heroin.
Both City Council and CPH are contributing $10,000 each to fund an emergency supply of the life-saving drug.
City Council President Zach Klein says Columbus EMS responds to five to seven calls for Narcan each day.
“We have to follow up with treatment,” Klein said. “We have to give people the opportunity to get the treatment they need to pull themselves out of this cycle of addiction that can sometimes lead to the cycle of incarceration that can rip families apart and destroy our community.”
Today, CPH released new data about the opiate crisis in Franklin County. From January through March of this year, EMS saw 1,033 people experiencing a drug overdose. From April to June, that number jumped to 1,291 people – an increase of 25%.
“I’ve had a lot of people come back for another dose of Narcan because the previous week they had to administer it on their girlfriend or something like that,” said Equitas Health pharmacist Phil Pauvlinch.
He says he sees patient after patient wanting to get Naloxone.
“Walking out with something that is potentially life-saving for them, life-saving for their loved ones, something that you know they don’t have to see one of their closest friends pass away in front of them,” Pauvlinch said.
But, without insurance, it can get expensive.
“If you have insurance it typically will cover a couple of doses of Naloxone a month,” said Equitas Health CEO Peggy Anderson. “If you don’t have any income or you’re low income and no coverage, it’s really hard to pay. For the two doses it is a little over $90.”
She says the $20,000 total in funding will get them 400 doses of Naloxone, which should last at least a few months.
“When we have a bad weekend we lose a lot of lives here in the city and I think a program where more people have access to Naloxone can only improve the health and the well-being of our community,” Anderson said.
Pauvlinch said if you ever had to administer Naloxone to someone, you should still call 9-1-1. He said it’s important to make sure the person overdosing is seen by a medical professional.