Blumenthal, Murphy Call on President To Allow Government to Negotiate Lower Prices for Naloxone, a Life-Saving Opioid Overdose Reversal Drug

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the White House finalizes its emergency declaration on opioid abuse, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) joined their colleagues in calling on President Trump to follow the recommendations of his Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis and allow the government to negotiate lower prices for naloxone, a life-saving opioid overdose reversal drug.  Drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for Americans under 50 and access to naloxone is critical given the magnitude of the opioid epidemic. 

The letter to President Trump was led by U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and signed by U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Pat Leahy (D-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Angus King (I-ME), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Joe Donnelly (D-IN). 

“The opioid epidemic now claims 142 deaths per day, and it is still getting worse,” wrote the Senators. “Unfortunately, the price of [naloxone] has increased dramatically during the epidemic. The prices are highest for newer devices that make delivery of the medication easier. Narcan, which administers naloxone as a nasal spray, costs $150 for a two pack and Evzio, a naloxone auto-injector, has increased from $690 in 2014 to $4,500 today for a two pack.”

“Your Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and Opioid Crisis recommends dramatically increasing access to naloxone, and says that ‘by declaring a national emergency, you can empower the HHS Secretary to negotiate reduced pricing for all governmental units,’” the Senators added. “We strongly agree with the recommendation, and urge you to give the Secretary this authority immediately. By doing so, you can put this important medication in the hands of more people and save lives.”

The full text of the letter is below. 

 

October 25, 2017 

President Donald J. Trump

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear Mr. President:

As you finalize the emergency declaration on opioid abuse, we urge you to follow the recommendations of your Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis and allow the government to negotiate lower prices for life-saving opioid overdose reversal drugs 

The opioid epidemic now claims 142 lives every day, and it is still getting worse. Drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for Americans under 50, exceeding the peak car crash deaths and H.I.V. deaths decades earlier. Access to naloxone, a life-saving opioid overdose reversal drug, is particularly important given the magnitude of the epidemic.

Initially approved by the FDA in 1971, naloxone is used in hospitals and emergency rooms, by first responders, and by members of our communities to revive victims and restart their breathing. Unfortunately, the price of the drug itself has increased dramatically during the epidemic. The prices are highest for newer devices that make delivering the medication easier. Narcan, which administers naloxone as a nasal spray, costs $150 for a two pack and Evzio, a naloxone auto-injector, has increased from $690 in 2014 to $4,500 today for a two pack.

Your Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and Opioid Crisis recommends dramatically increasing access to naloxone, and says that “By declaring a national emergency, you can empower the HHS Secretary to negotiate reduced pricing for all governmental units.”

We strongly agree with the recommendation, and urge you to give the Secretary this authority immediately. By doing so, you can put this life-saving medication in the hands of more people and save lives. We hope the policy will be the first step towards substantial action to bring down the cost of all drugs through negotiation and other policies, and part of a comprehensive emergency declaration that includes the investments needed to end the epidemic.