Rising Price of Naloxone Fuels Concern Over Opioid Deaths

Researchers argue the government should be making more of an effort to keep naloxone accessible.

A team of researchers say they’re worried about the increasing costs of the opioid antidote naloxone.

The researchers warn that the drug’s new prices may affect the availability of naloxone at a time when people need it most, reports CBS News.

Naloxone can reverse the often deadly effects of opioid overdoses if given to a person in a timely manner. Deaths attributed to opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999.

The researchers showed that the cost of Hospira’s 10-pack of naloxone has more than doubled since 2012 in a study published Dec. 8. Comparable cost increases were also tracked in other, off-label brands of Naloxone.

“The challenge is as the price goes up for naloxone, it becomes less accessible for patients,” lead author Ravi Gupta says.

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Gupta and the other authors of the study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, argued that the government should make more of an effort to keep naloxone affordable or offer it over the counter.

“A lot of the solutions [to improving naloxone’s availability] require strong political will, which doesn’t seem to be present,” Gupta says.

Hospital emergency departments are the biggest users of naloxone, however local players like health departments, emergency medical services and community-based organizations have also begun handing out naloxone to people at risk.

National drug companies, including Hospira, defended their naloxone price increases and pointed to multiple grants and donations they’ve made to address the humanitarian concerns related to its accessibility.

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