PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia health officials say overdose deaths involving the drug fentanyl continue to rise, despite years of warnings about its dangers. And the cost to the city is going up as the price for the emergency drug to prevent fatalities spikes.
It was deja vu for Behavioral Health Commissioner Arthur Evans, as he reported that the 99 fentanyl deaths in the first four months of this year are more than double where they were last year, which was a record year for fentanyl deaths.
“We also did an alert in 2013, and we did an alert in 2014,” he said.
Clearly, the alerts are of limited use.
Credit: Pat Loeb
Evans says the city is also doing outreach and expanding treatmentservices. And Deputy Fire Commissioner Jeremiah Laster says Emergency Medical workers are using twice as much of the overdose reversal drug Naloxone compared to two years ago.
“3,035 doses in 2015.” Laster said.
That’s straining budgets because the cost of the drug has tripled in that time. Laster says he doesn’t know the reason. Calls to the manufacturer have not been returned. But Laster adds Naloxone doesn’t get at the root of the problem.
“Prevention is the issue we’re going to have to deal with.”