The Cost of Saving Lives
Naloxone, which was first introduced in 1971 under the brand name Narcan, has been called a miracle drug. It has the ability to potentially save tens of thousands of lives by reversing the effects of an opioid-related respiratory distress which occurs with an opioid overdose.
The medication is now 4,000 percent more expensive than when it was first brought onto the market and the price has doubled since 2014. What this means, is that cities that supply Naloxone to their first responders, to assist them in saving lives are beginning to find their supply of the drug running low without a way to pay for it or replace it.
After receiving complaints, it appears lawmakers are starting to pay attention. Following a number of critical media reports on Naloxone pricing, a special senate committee wrote a letter to the five leading manufacturers of Naloxone (including Mylan the manufacturers of the highly over- priced EPIPEN) asking for an explanation for increasing the cost of the drug. Most of the Naloxone makers explain the price increase to the additional demands they face in meeting the skyrocketing demand for the drug. However health care advocates respond that the drug is not a limited commodity and is cheap.
Due to the desire of state and local governments to save lives they are tapping into emergency funds in order to get Naloxone to police officers and paramedics. In 2017 health officials around the country will be rushing to secure the funds needed to pay for the drug. The bipartisan, Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) which was signed this summer by President Obama calls for expanding first responder’s access to Naloxone, however Congress has yet to provide any funding effort. Without a stable funding source for the medication, first responders will not be outfitted with Naloxone kits and lives will be lost.
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