Naloxone price hikes could hurt efforts to reduce opioid-related deaths in US

The rising price of the opioid-antidote drug naloxone may hinder national efforts to reduce opioid-related deaths, according to a new report published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

In the report, researchers note the price of naloxone has skyrocketed in the past few years. Hospira charges $142 for a 10-pack of the drug, marking a 129 percent increase from 2012. Newer versions of the drug are even more expensive. A two dose-package of the brand name version Evzio costs $4,500, jumping more than 500 percent in two years.

"The challenge is, as the price goes up for naloxone, it becomes less accessible for patients," said Ravi Gupta, one of the report's lead researchers, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Mr. Gupta — along with fellow researchers Joseph Ross, MD, associate professor of medicine and public health at the Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, Conn., and Nilay Shah, PhD, of Rochester, Minn-based Mayo Clinic — argued the government must step in to ensure naloxone is affordable.

They suggest the government could encourage generic competition, buy naloxone in bulk or import generics from international manufacturers to limit costs. Researchers also said the government could invoke a law that would allow it to work with a manufacturer to produce cheaper versions or the drug. The Food and Drug Administration could also switch naloxone to an over-the-counter status to improve access and lower the price, according to the report.

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