Cost Soars for Heroin Overdose Antidote Naloxone, Police Report


The price of naloxone, the heroin overdose antidote, is skyrocketing, according to police departments and public health officials across the country. In some cases, prices for the drug have increased by 50 percent or more.

“It’s not an incremental increase,” Chuck Wexler, Executive Director of the Police Executive Research Forum, told The New York Times. “There’s clearly something going on.” Dr. Phillip O. Coffin, Director of Substance Abuse Research at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, said the price rise will decrease access to the medication.

Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, reverses the effects of an overdose of heroin or opioid painkillers. Police departments around the nation have announced plans to stock up on naloxone, according to the newspaper.

The antidote has long been used by emergency rooms and paramedics. Last month, the World Health Organization said increasing the availability of naloxone could prevent more than 20,000 deaths in the United States annually. Naloxone, which previously was available only as an injectable drug, can now be administered as a nasal spray. It works quickly, without side effects.

A growing number of states have passed laws increasing access to naloxone. As of September 2014, there were 24 states with such laws. Most of the laws allow doctors to prescribe naloxone to friends and family members of a person who abuses opioids. The laws also remove legal liability for prescribers and for those who administer naloxone.

This week, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman wrote to the chief executive of a company that makes naloxone, calling the price increase unacceptable, and demanding an explanation. “A dose of naloxone that a participating police department had purchased for $14.90 in August is now selling for $34.50,” he wrote.

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    October 14, 2015 at 10:01 PM

    The drug companies are pushing naloxone and jacking up the price. Naloxone is not what saves lives, oxygen does. As many or more lives could be saved with CPR at no cost. In opiate OD the quicker they get breathing the better. Starting CPR right away is quicker than finding the naloxone. Learn CPR.

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