Emergent, maker of Narcan (the opioid overdose antidote), said in a Thursday statement that it aims to have a nasal spray priced at less than $50, now that the US Food and Drug Administration has allowed over-the counter sales.
The company claims that public interest groups, such as government agencies and nonprofits, pay on average less than $50 for a kit containing two doses of 4 milligrams. Wholesale price per kit is $125. The out-of pocket retailer price should be in line with the public interest pricing, but retail prices are set by retailers.
Richard Blumenthal, Senator from Connecticut, asked Emergent to reply by Thursday to a letter dated April 6, asking for the affordable OTC Narcan price list that Emergent intends to set.
Your product's wholesale price is currently reported to be as high as $100 for two doses. Prices vary widely depending on the location and coverage by insurance. Uninsured individuals - approximately one fifth of those with opioid use disorders are not covered - will have to pay the full price. Even those with low co-pays and insurance can find it difficult to afford Narcan. I ask you to work with addiction specialists, public health experts and community activists to determine and develop a list price for OTC Narcan which makes it affordable for those in need.
In a letter of response sent on Thursday, Emergent stressed the importance of federal funding being continued for programs that treat and prevent substance abuse, such as opioid response initiatives, which distribute Narcan. They also urged private insurers and Medicare and Medicaid, to take into consideration their coverage for the medication.
Narcan will be available in-store and online by the end of summer.
Experts in harm reduction say that the high price of Narcan (the overdose antidote) has made it difficult for those who are most in need to access the medication. It is likely to remain out of reach despite the potential for a price drop when the drug becomes available OTC.
Dr. Rahul gupta is the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. He said that when the FDA approved OTC Naloxone last week, the administration was asking Emergent keep the price as low as possible.
He said: 'We have to ensure that these lifesaving medications and treatments are accessible no matter where people live, whether they're in rural areas or cities, or rich or poor.'
Narcan blocks the effects of opioids in the brain, and restores breathing. It is most effective if it's administered as soon as the signs of an overdose are visible.
It only works if someone has opioids in their body. The drug will not work for any other overdose. However, it won't cause adverse effects when given to someone that hasn't used opioids.
Each kit includes two doses, in case a person who has overdosed does not respond to the initial dose. Emergent claims that most overdoses are reversible with just one dose. This product can be used by anyone, including children and infants.
In the 20 years since the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention started collecting these data, more than one million people have died from drug overdoses. Most of these deaths were caused by opioids. The CDC reported that the number of deaths from opioid overdoses increased by more than 17 percent in just one single year.
In the US, opioid deaths are the most common cause of accidental death. Children are also dying from synthetic opioids like fentanyl, which are mainly consumed by adults. The CDC reports that between 1999 and 2016 nearly 9,000 children, adolescents and young adults died from opioid poisoning. Among adolescents aged 15-19 years old, the CDC found the highest rates of death.
According to the American Medical Association, retail pharmacies dispensed 1.2 million doses naloxone in 2021 - nine times as many as they did five years ago.