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Who will pay for life-saving Narcan in Snohomish County?

An overdose prevention kit with Naloxone. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Snohomish County officials encouraged local cops to start using an overdose-reversing drug. The county even paid for it. Now, officials say that getting local agencies to foot the bill has always been a part of the plan.

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Naloxone, or Narcan, is a life-saving drug that police agencies across Snohomish County have been using for opioid overdoses. The county began supplying it to local officers in 2015. They have saved 259 lives since then. But now, county officials want the police departments to continue to supply Narcan, but pick up the tab themselves.

“The program originally was funded with federal dollars, it was on a short-term demonstration basis,” said Human Services Director Mary Jane Brell-Vujovic. “We were able to put together federal, state, and regional, and local funds to extend that out, [but] the entire time the intent has been to be able to roll the program over to the individual jurisdictions in law enforcement so that they can manage the program themselves.”

That doesn’t mean cops at agencies that don’t have it in their budgets will be without the life-saving drug.

“The [county] executive wants every law enforcement officer in the county to have Naloxone and has provided funding in his proposed budget,” Brell-Vujovic explained.

“There is more than enough in the Executive’s budget to cover what we have been covering for the various law enforcement agencies. The amount that we’ve been covering for them is about $45,000 a year. His proposed budget includes much more than that,” Brell-Vujovic added.

So, basically any police agency in the county that needs the county to supply its officers with the Naloxone can make a request to the MAC Group — rather than expecting to get it from Human Services — and the county expects to continue to be able to cover it moving forward if need be, though they prefer the agencies start footing the bill on their own.

“That would be the ideal goal – that each jurisdiction could take it on themselves,” Brell-Vujovic said. “We realize that some may not, but it’s absolutely considerably less cost effective for it to come through the county to the jurisdictions than it is for the jurisdictions’ to manage it themselves.”

Cleo Harris with the county’s behavioral health division of human services says another important thing to remember.

“The officers do have Narcan at this point in time,” Harris said. “Most of it does not expire until the end of 2020 or 2021 so it’s not like they’re not going to have Narcan.”

“They’ll still have what’s been provided,” she added.

The bottom line:

“We believe that we will have the resources to continue to provide Naloxone without interruption to law enforcement agencies, throughout Snohomish County,” Brell-Vujovic said.

In meantime, law enforcement agencies are looking at new funding options.

“For the Sheriff’s Office and our contract cities, we have resupplied all of our patrol units with kits,” said Shari Ireton with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office. “They have a two-year expiration date, so that will easily carry us through the beginning of 2021. We are committed to ensuring our staff have access to Naloxone and we are seeking alternate funding sources for the future.”

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“Everett police continue to support having this live-saving drug in the hands of first responders,” said Aaron Snell with the Everett Police Department. “We are evaluating future funding options and appreciate the partnerships we have established. There will be ongoing discussions related to providing Naloxone to our officers on the street.”

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