A potentially life-saving weapon against the opioid epidemic recently became a lot more accessible. But some say the price still makes it out of reach for many of those who need it.
38-year-old Francene Fegely delights in simple things. Her addiction to opioids started with painkillers as a teenager and eventually spiraled into IV heroin use.
“I've been in jail. I've experienced homelessness,” the North Texan recalled. “I have been in rehabs. I've overdosed before.”
One of the reasons Fegely says she is here today is because of Naloxone, an overdose antidote. The brand name is Narcan. It’s now available as a nasal spray without a prescription at all Walgreens stores and 41 CVS stores.
“It saved my life,” she said.
When Fegely received the antidote, it was intravenously at a hospital. She applauds Narcan becoming more readily available, especially to the addicts’ caregivers who'd likely end up administering it. But she still worries people will continue to die at Narcan's current price of about $125, and only some insurers are covering it.
“It could save their son, their daughter, a mother, anyone. It's a big deal,” she said. “Like I said, I wouldn't be here if I didn't get it.”
Plano-based refillWise, a free, prescription discount card, says it's able to help. It can discount Narcan and Naloxone for card members where insurance may not be an option. The key is there must be a prescription.
“They may not want to put that on their insurance for discretion with their employer or personal preference,” explained Catherine Cuellar with RefillWise. “So if they are not filing it on their insurance or if their insurance doesn't cover it, the RefillWise card can help them save.”
With accessibility and affordability, Fegely hopes addicts get another chance at life and recovery.
“I would love for other people to grasp ahold of this and just give this a try,” she said.
About 140 Americans die from opioid overdose every day.