CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — Naloxone donated by a Virginia pharmaceutical company is being credited with saving the lives of more than 100 people who had overdosed on opioids in the suburbs in 2017.
More than 50 suburban police departments are part of the program involving the use of Evzio, an easy-to-administer injector of naloxone.
The program was established by Cook County Commissioner Sean Morrison and Orland Park Fire Protection District Chief Michael Schofield. Chief Schofield said police get to scenes faster than paramedics and save lives.
“Seconds count and a lot of times, the police are getting there and these people are taking their last breath,” Schofield said.
“Just in 2017, we documented 123 saves by the police departments.”
Lansing police, by far, had the most saves of overdose victims last year of the 53 police departments. Lansing police revived 26 people who were overdosing on opioids last year.
Police Chief Dennis Murrin said factors for his department having more “saves” than other departments includes being on the Illinois-Indiana state line at I-80-94 and, “we have many, many hotels at our interchange on Torrence Avenue there.”
The Evzio devices, which are about the size of a pack of gum, are made and donated by Kaleo Pharma. Dr. Eric Edwards, a founder the company said the company has already donated 300,000 doses of naloxone to police departments around the country.
“Nationally, Kaleo has had reported over 5,000 lives saved now with the help of Evzio since we started this program,” he said.
Of the 53 police departments involved in the program in Cook County, 29 reported saving people’s lives with the naloxone. Besides Lansing’s 26 saves, there were 13 people revived in Worth, nine in Oak Forest, eight in Oak Lawn, and seven in Blue Island, Hickory Hills, and Skokie.
Midlothian police saved six people with the Evzio injectors in 2017 while Hillside police saved five people, and four people each were revived in Oak Park, Orland Hills and Park Forest.
Three people were saved in South Holland, two in Lincolnwood, Lyons, Posen and Westchester, and one was saved by police each of the following areas, Berkeley, the Cook County Forest Preserve, Countryside, Harwood Heights, North Riverside, Palos Heights, Palos Park, Riverside, Rolling Meadows, Steger and Thornton.
Orland Park PFD Chief Schoefield said the average age of the drug users revived was 32.5. He said 183 doses were used on the 123 people revived in 2017.