New state order gives easier access to Narcan - WNEM TV 5

New state order gives easier access to Narcan

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

It is used in the fight against the opioid epidemic and a new state order is making it easier for people to get a hold of without a prescription.

Opioid related deaths jumped from 473 in Michigan in 2007 to more than 1,200 in 2015. To fight that, pharmacies are making the drug that stops the overdose much easier to get your hands on.

"They'll still have a heartbeat, but the breathing will be affected. They'll be lifeless just laying there," said Brad Hope, Saginaw police K-9 officer.

It is something he and his canine officer Seigan see quite often. He said when you see those signs it becomes a race to save the person's life before they lose oxygen.

To do that they use the drug called Naloxone, more commonly known as Narcan.

"I've used it three or four times in the last six to seven months," Hope said.

He said he recently saved a man in Saginaw using Narcan. The man would have died otherwise.

"It not only saves someone's life, but gets them to the road of recovery," Hope said.

There is a push to get the life saving drug into the hands of those who need it so they don't have to wait for first responders.

A new state order would allow pharmacies to sell Narcan without a prescription.

That's something Hemang Patil, pharmacist at Bridgeport Pharmacy, said is much needed.

"Opioid overdose is one of the deadliest overdose and it is very common. So this thing has to be taken care of. Being a pharmacist I'm taking this as a positive step," Patil said.

There is some push back. Some people think allowing more access to Narcan would give drug users more reason to shoot up.

"That's rather barbaric. This is 2017, we don't let people die," said Dr. William Morrone, with Recovery Pathways.

Morrone, an addiction recovery expert, said the drug should not be used as a backup, but rather a wake-up call.

"This gives you a second chance. It allows you to realize you almost died. Someone saved you and you really need help," Morrone said.

Morrone said it takes roughly three minutes for someone to die after they have stopped breathing due to an overdose. He said the average EMT response time is 16 minutes.

Patil said he has not received official notice of the narcan change, but he expects it soon.

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