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Soaring prices of anti-overdose drug naloxone causes concern

Posted on 02-15-17 in Addiction, Substance Abuse

 

Just over 33,000 people overdosed from opioid drugs in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Such overdoses have quadrupled since 1999.

Naloxone, a drug which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, has seen its profile rise substantially as a result.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, signed by former President Barack Obama, strengthened prescription drug monitoring programs, expanded educational resources and improved access to naloxone. Once a drug carried strictly by medical professionals, naloxone is increasingly available to the public at drug stores. It can also be found in new and easier-to-use forms like a nasal spray. As naloxone has become increasingly indispensable for treating overdoses, however, it has also become increasingly expensive.

Rising cost of naloxone

According to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine in December 2016, there have been serious price increases in multiple versions of the drug. For example, the cost of Hospira’s injectable version of naloxone has increased by 129 percent since 2012. A nasal spray version of naloxone, manufactured by Amphastar, costs nearly $40 per dose, a 95 percent increase since 2014.

The price of Evizo’s autoinjector version of the drug increased over 500 percent in two years, from $690 in 2014 to $4,500 in 2016. The authors of the report cautioned that the price increase of naloxone is similar to that of many prescription drugs seen in recent years. In addition to legislation – such as the bipartisan Fair Accountability and Innovative Research (FAIR) Drug Pricing Act of 2016 – the authors also suggested other steps to control the costs of naloxone and other drugs.

Bulk purchasing of naloxone would create a level of demand that could convince other companies to manufacture the drug, a strategy used in the case of vaccines. Secondly, they advocated that the government could have a contract with a manufacturer to make more affordable versions of the products like the autoinjectors. Finally, the authors suggested allowing import of generic drugs from other manufacturers.

Though naloxone has positive effects, it is important to remember that it is not a miracle drug. A group of people using drugs may be reluctant to call for help if a potential arrest comes along with the drug.

Treatment before the overdose

Naloxone is vital to saving the lives of people who suffer from overdoses in the wake of the current opioid epidemic. A more effective means of saving lives, however, is to stop the spread of addiction in the first place. Professional addiction treatment can stop the abuse of heroin and other opioids before the overdose occurs.

Sovereign Health provides expert treatment for addiction as well as for underlying mental illnesses fueling addiction. In facilities throughout the United States, each patient receives a thorough assessment and tailor-made treatment plan to address his or her specific needs. Our compassionate staff make use of evidence-backed treatment to ensure every patient has the best chance of a full recovery. For more information, contact our 24/7 helpline.

About the author

Brian Moore is a staff writer and graphic designer for Sovereign Health. A 20-year veteran of the newspaper industry, he writes articles and creates graphics across Sovereign’s portfolio of marketing and content products. Brian enjoys music, bicycling and playing the tuba, which he’s done with varying degrees of success for over 25 years. For more information and other inquiries about this media, contact the author and designer at news@sovhealth.com.