Blumenthal Survey of Connecticut Fire and EMS Department Found Massive Narcan Price Increases, Widespread Concern For Budget Impact and Future Access
(Hartford, CT) - At a press conference with Connecticut first responders and State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) today called on Amphastar to roll back its obscene and immoral Narcan price hikes, and urged the Federal Trade Commission to investigate possible illegal profiteering and price gouging for Narcan and other life-saving drugs.
Produced by Amphastar, Narcan is a life-saving drug carried by all paramedics and many first responders in Connecticut that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. But as the heroin and opioid epidemic continues to spiral across Connecticut, and as use of Narcan becomes more prevalent, the cost of the drug has inexplicably skyrocketed from a little as a dollar or two a dose to over $50, impacting state and local budgets. Blumenthal conducted a survey of Connecticut fire departments and emergency medical services. All respondents reported significant increases in the cost of Narcan, with many expressing concern about the impact on their budgets and implication for future access. A summary of the findings follows:
“These arbitrary and indiscriminate price increases are threatening future access to this life-saving drug. As a deadly opioid abuse epidemic continues to plague the state and region, Narcan costs have inexplicably skyrocketed, rising from as little as a dollar or two in recent years to over $50 a dose. Access to Narcan must be protected and preserved, and I urge Amphastar to correct this egregious wrong and rollback these price hikes,” Blumenthal said. “Sadly, this profiteering is not an isolated matter, as we have seen with the outrageous and immoral attempt by Turing Pharmaceuticals to increase the price for Daraprim by 5,000 percent. I call on the FTC to investigate and use the full force of their enforcement powers against any company that abuses their market power to engage in this kind of callous and abusive price gouging.”
Full text of the letter to Amphastar follows.
Dear Dr. Zhang:
I am writing to request how Amphistar plans to contain the increasing price of Naxolone, an antidote used to treat the life-threatening effects of opiate overdoses, and what steps you are currently taking to bring Naxlone pricing back to a reasonable rate.
As you know, opioid misuse, abuse, and overdose has hit epidemic levels nationwide with both state and federal officials seeking solutions to save lives and curb addiction. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug overdoses now surpass automobile accidents as the leading cause of injury-related deaths for Americans between the ages of 25 and 64, with 120 Americans dying as the result of overdose each day.
Heroin addiction and opiate-related deaths have ransacked my home state of Connecticut, along with the rest of the Northeast region. In 2012, the number of opioid deaths in Connecticut was 195. By 2014, this number has skyrocketed to a staggering 347 deaths, spanning across the state from rural communities to larger cities. I, like many others, am seeking answers from first responders, law enforcement officials, medical professionals, and mental health and substance use experts to discuss what can be done to control and constrain this epidemic.
As the manufacturer of Naxolone, you too can help by reversing your obscene price hike on this life-saving treatment. Your product is the only opioid overdose treatment that is a pre-filled auto injection device that can be easily used by first responders, friends, and families. Its easy use has proven immensely effective in reversing the effects of opiate overdose, giving emergency personnel precious time needed to treat and transport the victim.
Unfortunately, while Connecticut and other states have promoted widespread use of Naxolone, your company has inexplicably and unconscionably raised the drug’s price. This sudden and substantial price increase is cause for scrutiny and concern. A survey of Connecticut fire departments and emergency medical services prove that Naxolone’s skyrocketing costs have already resulted in barriers to access for Connecticut’s first responders. The responses are summarized below:
At a time when the CDC is declaring opioid misuse, abuse, and overdose a “public health crisis” and state governments are working furiously to find answers, Amphastar’s obscene price hikes are harmful to the health of our nation. By substantively increasing the price of Naloxone, Amphastar is creating an unjustifiable economic barrier between a life-saving drug and the people it is meant to save. I request that Amphastar outline its steps to bring the price of Naloxone back to a reasonable rate before it drains local budgets and endangers the health of communities nationwide. I look forward to hearing back from Amphastar regarding this important issue.