Concerns Over Funding for State Narcan Program

Chief Jeffrey Winward says dealing with drug overdoses is not what he signed up for when he joined the Lowell Fire Department 24 years ago.

"But unfortunately we’re in the middle of this opioid epidemic," says Winward.

Responding to opioid overdoses is now part of the daily job description, and they’re doing it with Narcan, a medicine that helps reverse the effects.

"Helping save more lives, as well," says Winward.

In Massachusetts, fewer people are dying from opioid overdoses, and Narcan is being credited for the decline.

However, a state trust fund that helps offset the cost of Narcan for police and fire departments is running out of cash, which could mean these departments would have to spend more of their own budgets to save lives.

Instead of $40 per box, communities would now have to pay more than $70.

"The price goes up, we may be able to buy fewer doses," says Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan.

Attorney General Maura Healey’s office is helping by adding money to the fund but says it will not be enough for the long run. More than half of the municipalities in the state have already used cash from this fund that was set up in 2015.

"We’re going to continue to provide as much as we can, to as many people who need it," says Ryan.

For now, she says many cities and towns have enough Narcan and will not have to buy more for at least three to six months.

The AG's office is also asking the business community and lawmakers to help come up with more cash to reload this fund.

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