Ohio becomes first state to get one year price freeze on life-saving drug

Published: Nov. 30, 2016 at 9:57 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSAZ) -- Ohio is now the first state in the country to have a price freeze on naloxone, the drug that reverses an overdose, in a year-long agreement.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced an agreement last week with the company that makes the Narcan nasal spray. Adapt Pharma will freeze the Public Interest Price for one year.

According to a spokesman for Adapt Pharma, the Public Interest Price program is not new, but Ohio is the first state to have it for a guaranteed amount of time.

The price will be frozen at $75 for a carton of two 4 mg doses of Narcan. That's a 40 percent discount, down from the company's wholesale acquisition cost of $125.

The drug has to be directly obtained from Adapt Pharma in quantities greater than 48 units.

"The cost to purchase naloxone has prevented some agencies from carrying this life-saving drug, but I hope that Adapt Pharma's new price freeze for Ohio will allow more agencies to consider keeping naloxone on hand," said DeWine in a news release. "I continue to urge law enforcement agencies to carry this drug, because it can mean the difference between life and death for those suffering from addiction."

While this is the first agreement of its kind, Duddy says the company is talking to other attorney generals.

Thom Duddy, executive director of communications at Adapt Pharma, said, "We are working discussion with other state Attorney Generals to help expand access and affordability of NARCAN(r) Nasal Spray as well. NARCAN(r) Nasal Spray 4mg is the first and only, FDA-approved naloxone nasal spray intended for use in the community setting to reverse the potentially fatal effects of an opioid-related overdose. It was developed in collaboration with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in order to provide an effective, layperson-friendly, needle-free product that delivers a strong dose."

Duddy says nearly 90 percent of Americans with health insurance have the nasal spray covered by their plans.

Chief Deputy Richard Grau at the Gallia County Sheriff's Office said this will not only help law enforcement agencies to save lives of overdose patients, it will help in other emergencies.

"It's a life-saving benefit to be able to have that price reduction or price freeze," Grau said. "Everyone is affected by the drug epidemic. Period."

The deputies carry naloxone in their cruisers and there are also packs in the jail as a precaution.

If the drug were to get too expensive, he says fewer officers and paramedics would likely carry the drug.

"Emergency Medical Services here in Gallia County sees daily incidents of having to use the naloxone," Grau said. "They may be tied up on a naloxone call, having to wait on law enforcement or having to wait on somebody else to respond."

Grau says the sheriff's office gets its naloxone from the Gallia County Health Department. He says the department along with the statewide initiative Project DAWN have made it possible to carry the life-saving drug.

He is glad to be reassured the drug will stay affordable.

"As the demand for that has gone up, the production necessarily hasn't gone up which keeps us supplied a lower level and drives the price up," Grau said. "To keep that price at a level where folks can afford to go get it and it can be provided to law enforcement, that's been a huge benefit for all of us."