Antidote Distribution Up as More Powerful Heroin Hits Streets

By Lauren Wanko

At Community Surgical and Pharmacy, a doctor’s prescription is all that’s needed to purchase Narcan, a medication given in a nasal spray which temporarily reverses the effects of a narcotic overdose.

“Most pharmacies do carry Narcan/Naxolone. It’s readily available. Most pharmacies don’t have a surgical and medical end of the business where the can carry the nasal tip,” said Community Surgical and Pharmacy owner Jerrold Fried.

“It’s really completely safe. There’s very little side effects if any,” said Community Surgical and Pharmacy Pharmacist Matthew Martone.

Ocean County police officers have been carrying and administering Narcan since April.

“If you have a loved one who has an addiction problem, they’re usually there before the police officers,” said Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato.

Faced with an ongoing heroin epidemic, Coronato asked five pharmacies to make the kits available to customers. A single dose with the nasal tip costs about $22 at Community Surgical and Pharmacy. Last year there were 112 drug overdose fatalities in Ocean County. And this year, 38 as of today. And since officers began administering Narcan, 56 people have been saved from a fatal overdose.

“I believe once we put down the drugs, we begin to feel again and we begin to return to normalcy. Then we allow ourselves to keep our appointment with life,” said Sean Hawley.

Twenty-four-year-old Hawley started taking prescription medication and other drugs before becoming addicted to heroin. He’s now in a rehab program.

“It was addicting both mentally and physically. Physically I became addicted a short time afterward and it began to become something I needed on a daily basis to get out of bed and feel normal psychologically,” Hawley said.

Heroin costs as little as $5 a hit.

“Compared to Percocets, Heroin was almost a third cheaper,” Hawley said.

“The heroin unfortunately you have here in New Jersey is the most powerful in the entire country and it’s also the least expensive in entire country so you couldn’t have two worse combinations,” said Coronato.

And now fentanyl, an opiate 100 times more powerful then morphine, is becoming more and more popular and available within the drug market, says Coronato.

“The concern is that they are now instead of just cutting heroin with fentanyl, they’re just packing fentanyl,” he said.

Ocean County police officers just began carrying two doses of the antidote. One dose may not be enough.

Prosecutor Coronato says Narcan is just one tool in the tool kit in the fight against opiate addictions. He’s working with health care professionals and state officials to follow up with addicts in the hospital and get them to rehab facilities.