CHOCOWINITY, N.C. (WNCT) – As areas in the East continue to see an unprecedented spike in the number of overdoses, the price of Narcan is becoming a bigger concern.
Chocowinity EMS has seen more than a 400 percent increase in the number of overdoses, already at 54 for the year. The overdose epidemic nationwide has sometimes led to supply shortages, causing the prices to rise.
“If you have to go outside of a wholesaler you are going to spend as much as $75 to $80 just for a 2mg vile, to as high as $150 if there is a national backlog or shortage on the medication,” said Glenn Mercer, Beaufort County’s EMS director.
Just a few years ago, the price for Narcan was around $10 per dose. Now, that price is around $40 if you buy wholesale.
But the problem is the demand sometimes outweighs the supply. Chocowinity EMS has started buying Narcan in bulk to ensure they have it if a shortage occurs.
Just five miles to the north in Washington, overdoses haven’t spiked quite as bad. So far 9 overdose calls have been recorded, up from 5 this time in 2016 and 2015.
Doug Bissette with Washington EMS said they aren’t taking the epidemic lightly.
“We’re watching them closely to see if they start to filter in to our response area,” he said.
Greenville Fire and Rescue said by the end of May, they had responded to 127 overdose calls. Areas in Craven, Pamlico and Hyde Counties are also seeing a big spike.
Bissette said the increase of those overdosing, combined with more Narcan being given with prescriptions in pharmacies, could create a big problem for EMS crews across the country.
“The more people who can get their hands on it, while it does help them, it is an issue because it’s going to be more costly for us,” he said.
Some agencies, like the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, haven’t started carrying Narcan. They said price uncertainty, and how it could impact their budget, is one big reason they have held off.