Dramatic Price Increase for Lifesaving Opioid Emergency Drug
In a letter sent this week to the head of Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, Inc. – a California-based drug manufacturer – Attorney General George Jepsen is seeking to understand why the price of Naloxone, also known as Narcan, has dramatically and unexpectedly increased and wants to explore options with the company to address concerns that the higher cost is creating a burden for state and municipal first responders who rely on the drug in emergency situations involving heroin overdoses.
Naloxone is a medication used to counter the effects of an opioid overdose. The price increase has come just as Connecticut has enacted and begun to implement new laws increasing the drug's availability to law enforcement, first responders and others in response to a nationwide epidemic of opioid abuse, including increased rates of heroin overdoses and prescription opioid drug abuse.
"To date, I have yet to see any public justification from Amphastar for these increases," Attorney General Jepsen wrote. "In the face of a public health crisis and at a crucial time in our battle to save lives that may be lost to the scourge of opioid abuse and addiction, these price increases will undoubtedly make our efforts to save lives much more difficult."
The Attorney General continued, "I have serious concerns that the steep price increase, occurring in the midst of significant budget constraints that the state is currently encountering, may very well negatively impact state and municipal first responders' efforts to utilize Naloxone at the very time when it is needed the most."
Attorney General Jepsen noted that, since a law allowing Connecticut state police officers to administer Naloxone took effect in October 2014, state troopers have responded to 34 emergencies where an individual was unconscious from a heroin-related overdose and were able to administer the drug with positive results.
The United States Drug Enforcement Administration has noted that the heroin threat is particularly high in New England. Heroin played a role in 306 fatalities in Connecticut last year.
Assistant Attorneys General Joseph Nielsen and Michael Cole, chief of the Antitrust and Government Program Fraud Department, are assisting the Attorney General with this matter.