Wilmington, DE – Every day in 2016 an average of four doses of Narcan were administered across New Castle County by first responders to individuals at risk of death from opioid and narcotic overdoses. Yesterday, the County Executive and every member of County Council committed their contingency funds, in collaboration with the contributions of a Wilmington pharmacy, to make life-saving Narcan more widely available.
The County and Wilmington’s Greenhill Pharmacy have provided each of the county’s 21 volunteer fire companies sufficient stocks of this life-saving medicine. Yesterday, New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer, County Council members and Greenhill Pharmacy founder and owner Jay Patel gathered with fire service members, treatment advocates and other first responders to announce the purchase of more than a year’s supply of the medicine to be distributed to New Castle County fire companies.
“Heroin and opiate addiction is the public health crisis of the 21st century,” said County Executive Matthew Meyer. “We are working collaboratively across all levels of government to address root causes, but we must also ensure that our first responders have medicine to save lives when they arrive at the scene of an overdose. I am proud to work together with County Council and Greenhill Pharmacy to provide our volunteer fire companies with life-saving medicine that will save lives.”
New Castle County’s fire companies are often the first to arrive on the scene of a medical emergency. In recent years, they have responded to the opioid and heroin epidemic by training first responders to administer Narcan to patients. Of the 1,200 doses of Narcan administered countywide last year, approximately 350 were administered by New Castle County volunteer fire companies.
Until now, fire companies have purchased Narcan with their own funds, at a cost that can approach $100 per dose. During a meeting earlier this year with the County Executive, fire company chiefs reported that they struggled to find funds to purchase adequate amounts of Narcan needed to meet the growing need.
The Meyer administration went to work, collaborating with County Council members and local pharmacies in search of a low-cost option to purchase the medicine. Jay Patel, founder and owner of Green Hill pharmacy, offered to secure the drug at a fraction of the retail price and generously contributed $3,000 towards the purchase of 600 doses. Meyer offered $9,600 from the County Executive’s grant fund and briefed County Council on the remaining $9,100 funding shortfall. Council responded, with each of its thirteen members contributing $700 to meet the balance.
Councilwoman Janet Kilpatrick, who attended yesterday’s event with Council members David Tackett and Kenneth Woods, shared her family’s experience losing a child to addiction. “I applaud our dedicated first responders who save lives every day and also the work of organizations like atTAcK addiction and others who help addicts get the treatment and help they need,” she said. “On behalf of all members of County Council, thank you to the County Executive and to Jay Patel from Greenhill Pharmacy for partnering with us on this effort.”
“First responders are the real heroes who serve on the front lines, and Greenhill Pharmacy is happy to do what we can to assist you in saving lives,” said Jay Patel, founder and owner of Greenhill Pharmacy. “We are proud to be an integral part of the community, and we feel it is our obligation to help to address this health epidemic.”
“The opioid epidemic is continuing to increase, and in the first quarter of 2017 the top three areas of overdose activity in Delaware were right here in New Castle County,” said Lawrence Tan, Chief of New Castle County Emergency Medical Services. “An opioid and narcotic overdose causes a drug user to stop breathing, and first responders have only 4-6 minutes to restore breathing by administering medication such as Narcan or other methods. Members of the fire service are key partners who respond to medical emergencies, and by carrying and administering Narcan they will continue to play a critical role in creating opportunities for people to survive overdose and take the next step towards long-term recovery.”
“Most fire companies simply do not have the funds to purchase this medicine, and thanks to this support from the County Executive, Councy Council and Greenhill Pharmacy, now they do,” said Keith Bowman, president of the New Castle County Firefighters Association as he accepted the first doses of Narcan earmarked for the fire service.
State officials lauded this latest step to make Narcan available to local fire companies.
“Naloxone saves lives. New Castle County has been a strong partner in our efforts to increase access in community,” said Delaware Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “I would like to commend the County Executive and County Council for using their own funds to provide additional access and save lives. To learn more about addiction prevention, recognition and treatment, plus naloxone training in the community, visit www.helpisherede.com.”
Contact: Jason Miller, Director of Communications, 302-545-1462