Fire department: Narcan administered to over 900 patients in Nashville last year

(Photo: WKRN)

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Nashville Fire Department says that Narcan was administered to more than 900 overdose patients in 2017.

Some of those patients, according to the agency, received multiple doses of the life-saving drug.

While Narcan saves lives, it also costs taxpayers an increasing amount of money as the number of people and the price of the drug skyrockets.

According to the Metro Public Health Department, toxicology results from January to October 2017 show that 84 people died from heroin-related overdoses.

In 2016, 88 people died and 56 others in 2015. The Davidson County medical examiner said in 2011 there were only two heroin-related deaths.

“It presents a huge challenge, but it does show those are deaths. That doesn’t include people who may have overdosed and they were brought back,” said Brian Todd with the Metro Public Health Department.

Many first responders now carry Narcan with them, and Metro police began carrying the life-saving drug this year.

“Those first responders are heroes – [they’re] saving lives,” Todd said.

Todd said he knows some people are angered they pay the cost for Narcan that some patients use multiple times.

“From a public health standpoint, we are looking at saving lives,” he said. “Just like if it was your family member or someone else’s family member, do you really want them to die? No.”

According to the Nashville Fire Department, Narcan cost $12 a dose nine years ago. Now, it costs $43 per dose.

Dr. Cory Slovis, a professor and chairman of Emergency Medicine at Vanderbilt, said there is nothing different about the drug that is causing the cost increase – it’s simply supply and demand.

“The issue is simply supply and demand. Over the last five years, overdoses – demand – have increased in some places by more than 150 percent. Now, just about anyone can get Narcan with a prescription or even over the counter in some places,” Director of EMS Emergency Management Chief Danny Schaeffer said.

Cheatham County emergency responders said they handled 149 overdoses in 2017. Of those overdoses, there were 206 Narcan administrations and 12 deaths.

Click here to read more about Tennessee’s Opioid Crisis.