AUSTIN (KXAN) — Callie Crow still remembers the moments in the hospital.
Her son, Drew, in ICU after an overdose in June of 2020.
“I know that he purchased some pills on the night of his overdose,” Crow explained. “I know within just a few moments of him taking those he was in cardiac arrest.”
The 27-year-old, a student at the University of North Texas, died from a fentanyl overdose.
“No parent thinks that they’re going to survive a child’s death,” Crow said emotionally. “I knew sitting there next to him in the ICU that I had to do something to in order to go on.”
Crow who is a paramedic outside of Fort Worth wanted to help others so they wouldn’t go through this kind of unbearable loss.
Drew’s 27 Chains
After his death, she started Drew’s 27 Chains and now travels across the state to provide education and training on how to administer Narcan, a brand name for Naloxone and an emergency treatment used to reverse an opioid overdose.
“I focus on first responders, so police departments, volunteer fire departments… I go and speak to them about, ‘hey, you know, I know where you’re coming from, I know what it’s like to get complacent with these people. But I need you to understand what this actually looks like to a family,” explained Crow.
But now her efforts are at a standstill. Crow said she can’t get any of the life-saving nasal spray medication.
“I have zero Narcan right now, which is a huge difference from let’s say a year ago,” Crow explained. “It’s kind of pointless for me to do this training if I cannot leave that Narcan behind.”
She was getting it free from the More Narcan Please program operated by the UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing. The program provides the medication which can be requested online along with training on how to use it.
But now an update online reads, “We are aware of delays in organizational orders that are currently pending. We are experiencing delays due to high demand and funding, and are not accepting any new naloxone requests at this time.”
High demand and low supply
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission which oversees the federal funding through the Texas Targeted Opioid Response program said it’s the high demand and low supply which has led to using all available funding.
A spokesperson with the state agency explained that the amount of funding varies each year depending on what’s awarded from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
HHSC said funding fell to $4,650,332 during this last funding year which began September of 2021 and will end August of this year. It’s a 22% decrease from the year before when $5,966,513 went to the program statewide.
The spokesperson added though there’s been less funding, the state did not reduce the expected amount of naloxone to be distributed.
The state is has been working with organizations to redistribute their unused Naloxone and so far, have been able to get about 1,400 to 1,600 doses.
The More Narcan Please website detailed other resources including getting Naloxone at all CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens locations.
Crow said any pharmacists can distribute naloxone through a standing order which has to be signed by a physician. But she added that not all pharmacists know enough about it and many people haven’t been able to get it and are calling her for help.
She said she’s tried to buy the medication but it can cost about $180 for a box, which contains two doses.
“I had already scheduled multiple departments up until you know, the summer. And I had to cancel all of those because I don’t have the Narcan to supply for them, and they don’t have anywhere to get it either,” explained Crow.
Since last October, Crow has worked with almost 60 departments and provided Narcan to those in the trainings.
She’s also helped put policies in place and continues to work with the departments on additional training and education. “There’s lives to be saved and they can’t be because we don’t have it in our hands,” Crow said.
Through her training, Crow said that 19 lives have been saved across the state, but she’s worried about what the shortage could mean on saving more Texans.
“I have been getting phone calls, text messages, letters, emails from moms, dads, brothers, sisters, friends say, ‘Hey, thank you so much for supplying the Narcan. My blank is here today because of you. They are in ICU, they are in rehab, they are sitting here next to me,'” Crow said. “And so my thoughts are ‘okay, now that I’m not doing this every week that means that those people are dying. And so that…. doesn’t sit well with me because the purpose of my organization is to make sure that this does not happen to any other family.”