The opioid addiction epidemic has shattered communities across the country. In response, many police officers, emergency responders, and family members of those struggling with opioid addiction have been equipped with naloxone, the “heroin antidote” that can reverse the effects of an overdose and save lives.
However, police and public health officials across the nation are reporting a drastic increase in cost since naloxone distribution became widespread earlier this year, rising in some areas by more than 50 percent. In Georgia, the price of a naloxone kit rose from $22 to $40, and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said a participating police department experienced an increase of $14.90 per dose in August, to $34.50 per dose today.
“It will decrease access,” Dr. Phillip O. Coffin, Director of Substance Abuse Research at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, said of the price hike.
Chuck Wexler, Executive Director of the Police Executive Research Forum, noted, “This is not an incremental increase. There’s clearly something going on.”
Naloxone can be administered with a needle or with an atomizer that creates a nasal spray. The nasal form, which appeals to law enforcement agencies, has seen the greatest spike in cost (though the injector is more expensive overall). Jason B. Shandell, President of Amphastar—one of the manufacturers of the nasally administered naloxone—declined to comment on the company’s pricing to The New York Times but said that “manufacturing costs have increased on an annual basis.”
Attorney General Schneiderman wrote a two-page letter to the chief executive of Amphastar demanding an explanation for the price jump. “These increases threaten to curtail access to a drug just when it is needed most,” Schneiderman wrote in the letter. “To date, Amphastar Pharmaceuticals has failed to provide any satisfactory explanation for dramatically increasing the price of a critical lifesaving drug.”
Addiction treatment experts have noted that naloxone is an effective tool for reducing opioid overdose deaths; however, they emphasize that more cautious prescribing practices and expanding access to treatment are essential to ending the epidemic.
Source: New York Times –