Heroin Overdose Antidote Now Costs Double

Heroin Overdose Antidote Now Costs Double – The Daily Beast – 05.30.16 by Ben Collins

Over 28,600 people died due to opioid overdoses nationwide in 2014,

There is an antidote. It’s called Narcan, a drug that blocks the effects of drugs like heroin immediately after an overdose.

It’s saved countless lives in states like New Hampshire, where opioid overdoses are up 73.5 percent year over year, and 2,800 doses were administered in the state from January to August alone.

The makers of the drug know this, and they are starting to make victims—and states—pay.  

The auto-inject version of the drug that used to cost $575 for two doses now costs $3,750, according to Politico.

This whole “opioid crisis”, so out of proportion with much more frequent causes of death like medical errors, seems to be fabricated and fed more by the profit motive than a concern for lives .

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New businesses are springing up to take advantage of patients and old businesses are price-gouging, yet the government says nothing about that and continues promoting the “opioid crisis” story.

The generic, Naloxone, isn’t much better: pre-crisis, the drug cost $1.84 per dose. Now, the drug costs 17 times that.

But there is a way to stop price gouging on a drug that now saves thousands of lives a year during America’s burgeoning opiate epidemic: Demand answers from the drug companies, threaten to sue the hell out of them, and force them to pay for it.

That’s what Attorney General Maura Healey did in Massachusetts. After hearing countless complaints from first responders about the sudden surge in the price of the drug, she started investigating companies like California-based Amphastar Pharmaceuticals in April.

By August, the same company that doubled the price of its drug for no real reason agreed to pay the state $325,000 in a settlement. All of that money goes into a trust fund for bulk purchasing of the drug, which saves 25 percent off each vial.

It’s an inelegant solution, and it doesn’t fix the price gouging immediately. But it’s working, and the pharma companies are quite literally paying for it.

Now, according to the Attorney General’s office, the price of naloxone is down to $20 per dose from $44 last year.

In Maine, where heroin deaths rose 31 percent in 2015, the state’s Governor Paul LePage simply does not want to help addicts.

Last week, he cited an apocryphal story of an unnamed Portland-area teenager who overdosed and was revived three different times in a week with “three Narcan shots.” There are no records of this ever occurring, according to Maine police reports.

But the state is now seeking bipartisan efforts to override its governor’s empathy-free style of leadership. Republican Senator Susan Collins demanded an explanation for the cost increase in letters to all five companies that make Naloxone.

The idea that this has been around since 1971 and the prices have gone up 17 times recently now because of high demand,” she told Maine Public Radio. “It’s got to be about greed.”

Until she drafts a bill, the only proven way to stop that corporate greed is to sue it out of them.

In Maine, where heroin deaths rose 31 percent in 2015, the state’s Governor Paul LePage simply does not want to help addicts.

“Naloxone does not truly save lives. It merely extends them,” he [Governor Paul LePage] wrote in a press release after vetoing a bill that would increase access to Narcan in late April.  

One could also say that open heart surgery only extends lives.

 

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