Hundreds of police officers in nearly 30 Kane County law enforcement agencies by early September will begin carrying a drug that can reverse heroin overdoses, causing county officials to begin finding ways to pay for the drug over the long term.
Representatives from area police departments received training through the county at the end of July. Officers who completed the training have been educating their peers the past few weeks in preparation for actually carrying the drug this fall.
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Each officer trained in administering the drug, known commercially as Narcan, will carry two doses in the form of a nasal spray. The drug acts by blocking receptors in the brain that opiates, such as heroin, Codeine, Vicodin and OxyContin, attach to. Narcan has no ability to reverse overdoses of non-opiates, such as cocaine.
A two-dose pack of Narcan costs about $35. Local EMTs and paramedics have long used the drug, but they are supplied through local hospitals. For now, the Kane County Health Department is supplying the drug to local police.
"The cost is not that expensive, and the medication does have a shelf life of two years," said Barb Jeffers, the executive director of Kane County's Public Health Department. "But we're going to have to look at the long term and what do we need to do to support this."
The costs may prove to be fairly low depending on how often police officers use the drug.
While police in neighboring counties have made headlines saving lives with the drug on a couple of occasions, Jeffers said she is not aware of any officers in Kane County using the drug yet. Kane County sheriff's deputies began carrying Narcan earlier this year.
The first year of using the drug should reveal the future need.
Every time an officer administers Narcan, he or she must report the use to the county health department to receive a replacement. State health officials will also keep a registry of every officer trained to use the drug, Jeffers said.