In the midst of the fastest growing drug epidemic that the U.S. has ever seen, Naloxone availability came at just the right moment. From pharmacies in almost every state making it available for purchase over the counter to school’s keeping it on hand just in case, the lifesaving overdose reversal drug is more available than ever before.
This should be great news. Amazing news -and it would be if the price of Naloxone wasn’t growing just as quickly as it’s availability.
Though it’s had a rise in popularity in recent months, Naloxone is nothing new. In fact, it’s been around since 1971 but alongside the heroin epidemic that our country is currently facing its use has increased substantially over the years. As a result of the heroin epidemic, outpatient use of Naloxone has increased by 72% in the last two years alone, according to the FDA.
So, what is causing this increase in price? Most are pointing the finger at pharmaceutical companies.
“You have increased demand and a few people who control the pricing, so they can charge whatever they want,” said Eliza Wheeler of the Harm Reduction Coalition in Northern California.
According to Leana Wen, the Baltimore Health Commissioner, there is nothing that is motivating pharmaceutical companies to charge excessive prices except for profit.
Naloxone has the amazing ability to save countless lives however no matter how available it is, if the average person can’t afford to purchase it, more and more people will continue to die from heroin overdoses.
“When drug companies increase their prices and charge exorbitant rates, they decrease the access to the drug,” said U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland. “There’s something awfully wrong with this picture.”
Even Sen. Bernie Sanders had something to say about it when he and Rep. Elijah Cummings launched an investigation last year on pharmaceutical company, Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, for their excessive and perpetual increase in price of the anti-overdose medication.
“Opioid abuse is an epidemic across our country, yet drug companies continue to rip off the American people by charging the highest prices in the world because they have no shame,” said Bernie Sanders in May. “The greed of the pharmaceutical industry is killing Americans.”