As the heroin and opiod epidemic grows every year in our area, there’s a bigger demand on your tax dollars.

Pharmaceutical companies that sell Naloxone — the drug that reverses opioid overdoses — are spiking the price at a dramatic rate. Cities are feeling the sting as they try to keep this drug on hand.

In 2015 more people died from opioid overdoses than deaths attributed to firearms. With death tolls reaching new highs, first responders are using more of the drug to try and save lives — and pharmaceutical companies are cashing in. So how much does it cost to save a life?

If you chip away the layers of paint on a mural in High Dive Park, It’s the story of a brother, a dancer, and a friend. Lost too soon.

“This green down here, this purple,” Sam Callantine showed us a mural of set in remembrance of his brother. “It had a mural of him in a dance.”

Sam’s brother, Jeremey Callantine, died of a heroin overdose last year.

“It’s one of those things where you wonder if you’re ever going to get past it, you wonder if your heart is ever going to feel better,” says Callantine.

It’s the reason more and more emergency responders are stocking Naloxone, a drug that could’ve saved Callantine’s life. The price of it increasing at a dramatic rate.

“It seems like back in 2008 we were well under $10 a dose, and now we’re approaching $30 a dose,” says Chief Brian Thomas at the Mishawaka Fire Department.

That’s causing first responders to re-arrange their budgets.

“It takes a lot of money to operate a fire department and the EMS division within it. So we’re seeing medications go up by 300 or 400 percent. Obviously it affects us dramatically.” Added Chief Thomas.

If we break this down, according to Mishawaka EMS, they pay $27.73 per dose of Naloxone. In 2016, they administered the drug 114 times, coming to a grand total of $3,161.22.

Mishawaka gets their Naloxone at a reduced cost from Saint Joseph Health Systems. WSBT 22 asked which pharma company it gets Naloxone from and how much it costs. St. Joseph County told us in part in this statement, saying:

“Unfortunately we are unable to share the cost at which we obtain a specific drug due to our contractual obligations… As a part of our mission to care for the community, we are able to assist community partners like EMS in accessing these reduced costs.”

The five pharmaceutical companies that produce naloxone have all hiked prices in recent years. Dan Bigg with the Chicago Recovery Alliance says the limited number of producers has kept the price high and increasing.

“It’s certainly not what you would expect from a free market. Increased availability would lead to decreased prices,” says Bigg.

Read more at WSBT

Drug Money: The cost of saving lives