SOURCE: Cape Cod Times By: Cynthia McCormick
FALMOUTH — Gosnold on Cape Cod is making 1,000 doses of Evzio, an injectable medication that reverses heroin overdoses, available free of charge to police departments and first responders on the Cape and South Shore.‘It works almost like an EpiPen,’ said Raymond Tamasi, president and CEO of Gosnold on Cape Cod, a treatment center based in Falmouth.
An injectable version of naloxone, Evzio is easy to use and requires fewer steps than Narcan, which is delivered in nasal form, Tamasi said. He said the medication comes in a package about the size of a deck of cards and includes voice instructions including a count on how long to hold the injection.
The company that makes Evzio gave Gosnold the equivalent of 1,000 doses to distribute to police and fire departments, Gosnold said. He said if there are doses left over Gosnold might make them available to parent support groups.
Tamasi discussed the availability of Evzio at the monthly meeting of the Cape Cod chiefs of police Friday that also included state legislators. Mashpee Police Chief Rodney Collins said the Evzio option looks interesting, but police officials need to confer with health officials and police unions before putting the medication, known as an auto-injector, in police cruisers.
‘It’s very simple to use,’ Collins said. ‘But it just needs to be reviewed a little further before implementation.’
He said officers have saved lives with the Narcan nasal spray currently in use.
Narcan doses are supplied to police by the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod and the Barnstable County Sheriff’s Office, Collins said. He said the Mashpee Police Department is responsible for paying for the current allotment of Narcan, but he is not sure of the final cost.
The cost of Narcan has skyrocketed since former Gov. Deval Patrick declared the opiate epidemic a public health emergency and changed regulations that made naloxone — the generic name for Narcan — available to all first responders in the state.
The price of naloxone has gone from $19.56 to $41.43 a dose— an increase of 111 percent — Massachusetts First Assistant Attorney General Chris Barry-Smith wrote in a Feb. 5 letter to naloxone manufacturer Amphastar Pharmaceuticals.
Barry-Smith asked the California company to work with the state on keeping costs down, and wrote: ‘These increases have strained access to this life-saving medication at exactly the moment when it is most needed. My office has heard regularly from local law enforcement and public health workers worried about their ability to maintain supplies.’
One of the benefits of Evzio is that is free — for now, local police said.
Evzio is available by prescription and it’s quite pricey. The out-of-pocket cost can run below $30 for people with insurance but those who don’t have health coverage or qualify for an assistance program can pay several hundred dollars. Lori McCarthy, the national director of clinical outreach at Gosnold, said the Evzio kit costs more than $300, which includes the tester and two doses.
‘It’s a great product,’ Bourne police Lt. Brandon Esip said. His department received a donation of Evzio doses from Gosnold.
Before officers can use the injectable anti-heroin medication Evzio needs to be worked into the training schedule of the Barnstable County Sheriff’s Department, which acts as medical director for local police departments’ naloxone programs, Esip said.
Tamasi said police and fire officials interested in Evzio can call Gosnold corporate offices at 508-540-6550 for the doses of the medication and training.
Naloxone, the medication in both Narcan and Evzio, reverses opioid overdoses. There were 43 opioid overdose deaths in Barnstable County in 2013 and 35 in 2014, Tamasi said.