The producers of the opioid overdose reversal drug Narcan, will pay into a new state trust fund to help make the medication more affordable to first responders in Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced.
Since the beginning of the heroin and pain medication crisis, the price of Narcan (Naloxone) shot up given the high demand. Healey announced that her office has come up with a solution by partnering with Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, making a $325,000 deal to offset the costs of the drug.
“The demand for Narcan to help save the lives of overdose victims has risen sharply, and with that, so has the price, making it tough for police and fire departments to access this critical drug,” Healey said. “This money will help us get Narcan into the hands of every first responder, giving them a tool they need to help save lives.”
This program is the first of its kind payment from the manufacturer that will go into the Commonwealth’s Municipal Naloxone Bulk Purchase Trust Fund, which will provide the nasal spray version of Narcan at a bulk equivalent to 10,000 units. The initial fund made 15,000 doses available with $150,000 in state funding. But the demand continues to increase in order for first responders to stand a chance at the growing opioid epidemic.
The cost of Narcan jumped from $15 a dose to about $44 in 2014. Healey hopes that buying the opioid blocker in bulk will stabilize the costs.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office struck a similar deal with Amphastar cuts the wholesale price by 20 percent, and includes a $6 rebate per dose in February 2014. Last spring, the NYPD began training officers on how to use naloxone, and outfitting officers with kits. Eventually, 19,500 officers will carry the kits.
In less than a year, Schneiderman's office gave $1.8 million to state police departments for naloxone kit reimbursements.
“We heard through our listening sessions across the state from parents, siblings, and those who struggle with addiction themselves about the life-saving ability of Naloxone,” Chair of Governor’s Opioid Working Group Marylou Sudders said. “Today's announcement will help broaden access to this intervention, which was an important recommendation of the Working Group and will expand this life-saving measure.”
Monday’s announcement came as the world marked International Overdose Awareness Day.
“Since 2014, Boston’s firefighters have seen firsthand the value of Narcan,” Boston Fire Chief Joseph Finn said. “We have administered it over 450 times with great success. Cost should never be a factor when first responders are called to help. This agreement will ensure all of us continue our mission of helping those in need.”
Since August, Narcan has been used to save 129 lives in Worcester alone. Quincy became the first city in the nation to require police officers to carry Narcan, and has saved 95 percent of the victims treated. Statewide, first responders used 11,000 doses of Narcan last year.