After prices soar, Bucks group crowdfunding overdose-prevention drug

     A kit with naloxone, also known by its brand name Narcan, is displayed at the South Jersey AIDS Alliance in Atlantic City, N.J. on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014.  (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    A kit with naloxone, also known by its brand name Narcan, is displayed at the South Jersey AIDS Alliance in Atlantic City, N.J. on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    The Bucks County organization Drug Addiction oVerdose Education has trained about 240 family members of addicts to administer naloxone, also called Narcan, in the case of an opioid overdose.

    If administered quickly, the drug stops an opioid overdose from becoming fatal. In the last year, pharmaceutical companies have raised the price of the naloxone dramatically, so the organization known as DAVE is now asking the public for help supplying the life-saving drug.

    Cathy Messina, co-founder of DAVE, said the group needs to raise $3,520 to equip 40 more people to prevent an overdose.

    “That’s why we started a GoFundMe, to see if we can get the naloxone ourselves and keep holding the trainings,” she said.

    DAVE had been receiving naloxone for free from Prevention Point Philadelphia, a nonprofit health organization that co-hosts the trainings. It can no longer to provide the drug amid skyrocketing costs. Doses used to run $12 but can now top $40, depending on the pharmacy.

    After 25 days, the GoFundMe effort is less than halfway to its goal. Denise Dougherty Frattara, the other founder of DAVE, said many people are “liking” and “sharing” the page on social media, but that isn’t translating into donations.

    In addition to paying for the naloxone, DAVE wants to help families with another hurdle to saving a loved on — finding the drug at all.

    In theory, it should be easier than ever to obtain naloxone. In November, Pennsyvlania issued a “standing order,” in essence a blanket prescription for supplying Narcan to anyone in the state.

    That order has not necessarily translated into more access, said both DAVE and Prevention Point Philadlephia staff. Many pharmacies will still request a prescription from a doctor or are unwilling to keep it in stock.

    “The thing is, the pharmacies can get it, but they don’t stock it,” said Messina.

    In obtaining the drug herself, Messina said, she hopes to save anxious and ashamed family members from being turned away from a pharmacy.

    “This is a way to say, ‘Here … we want to help you take that first step and get that naloxone to you and help you with the financing of it’,” she said. DAVE is working with mom-and-pop and national pharmacy chains to find a way to order enough doses to do more trainings.

    Dougherty and Messina said they will hold their next training on April 25 at the Horsham Township Community Center whether they meet their fundraising mark or not.

    DAVE is named after Messina’s son, David, who died of an overdose in 2014.

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