- Last week, Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) sent letters to five companies regarding naloxone price hikes. Prices have increased as much as 1,700% in the last two years.
- Pfizer, Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, Mylan, Kaleo Pharma and Adapt Pharmaceuticals received letters.
- Naloxone, which was first approved in 1971, is used to reverse opioid overdose. Within the last 10 years, the price has increased from an average of $1 per dose to a price ranging from $30 to $45, based on prices at CVS locations in 14 states.
Last March, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), sent a letter to Amphastar to inquire about pricing. This occurred about the same time that the national problem associated with opioid overdose had become a front-page issue. There were roughly 23,500 deaths in the United States in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a four-fold increase since 1999.
Naloxone is the go-to antidote to reverse the effects of opoiod overdose. Yet even as the problem of opioid overuse and abuse occurred, prices crept up. That has occurred even though generic drug manufacturer, Mylan, is also making naloxone. The impact has been severe for municipalities that rely on naloxone, especially the 40 agencies (30% of those polled by the CDC) that said that they have had trouble getting naloxone.
Naloxone is mainly used as an injectable, but within the last two years two companies, Kaléo and Adapt Pharma, have introduced naloxone products with alternate delivery systems. In 2014, Kaléo introduced an auto-inject option, and Adapt Pharma introduced Narcan, the first nasal spray version of naloxone. Other companies are at work developing new delivery systems for naloxone and preparing to enter the market.
For municipalities and other naloxone end-users, the hope is that increased competition, coupled with federal scrutiny, will converge to stabilize prices and shore up supply.