DES MOINES, Iowa -- Paramedics fear that the opioid crisis in Iowa is far from over, but now one of Iowa’s most well-known companies is offering a product which can bring overdose victims back from the brink.
In 2016 Iowa started allowing pharmacies to sell the lifesaving drug Naloxone without a prescription.
The drug, commonly known as Narcan, can revive someone who has overdosed. It can be found at CVS, Walgreen's and most recently at Hy-Vee.
“There’s a growing need for this to be rapidly available. Timing is everything when it comes to an opioid overdose” said Hy-Vee Pharmacist Keri Roder.
Paramedics say the time is right for everyday Iowans to equip themselves with the lifesaving measure because they fear the opioid crisis has just begun
“We’re just starting to see some of that now, I don’t think we’ve seen the worst of it yet” said Lt. Tony Sposeto of the Des Moines Fire Department EMS division.
At this time last year, Des Moines first responders saw 48 cases of opioid or heroin overdoses. To date, this year the number is up to 86.
Overdoses happen when opioids attach to receptors in the brain; too many of them and it can shut down the body's command to breath.
“Basically it reverses that, causing that person to regain respiratory effort and essentially brings them back to life, typically we’ve seen it within 15-30 seconds we’ll have that person back” said Sposeto.
Pharmacists are recommending those on prescription Opioids for pain carry Narcan in case of accidental overdose, and it could save the life of a friend or family member struggling with addiction.
The drug is simple, and easy to use. It’s applied much like a regular nasal spray for allergies.
Paramedics say that before anything, call 911 to get them on the way because there can be more complications when the victim comes back.
“If they’ve taken more than what that dose of Narcan or Naloxone can handle they could easily slip back into respiratory arrest, we’ve seen people go into seizures after given that medication from withdrawal symptoms and they can get angry or violent at times” said Sposeto.
First responders say so far, they've only seen a handful of cases where a victim has been given Narcan before they get there; and hopefully with the drug more readily available, they'll see more.
“We don’t want the public to think that we’re gonna criticize them or judge them in any way, we’re just there for the patient and want to help them” said Sposeto.
While the drug may save lives, it’s not a silver bullet.
“It’s not solving the problem of the addiction, it’s saving their life at that exact moment until they can get help to deal with the addiction” said Roder.
Most insurance providers will cover the medication with a co-pay of as little as $10.