December 07, 2018 10:40 AM
Every single day, lives are saved in Minnesota using an antidote to opioids. Naloxone, or Narcan, reverses the effects of a drug overdose and most emergency responders carry the drug. But some worry not everyone who needs the drug will have access to it, in part because of the cost. Some Minnesota leaders are taking action to expand access.
Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Human Services asking them to take action to reduce the price of naloxone. As the opioid epidemic grips Minnesotans, most leaders agree this drug is needed to save lives and give people struggling with addiction another chance.
"We've probably saved at least 400 lives using Narcan. We consider it a huge success," Minneapolis Assistant Fire Chief Bryan Tyner said.
Minneapolis firefighters have been carrying Narcan for about two years. They have used it to save one to two lives a day. Minneapolis police use the drug and all first responders and ambulance crews are equipped. Other agencies around the state are equipped as well.
Sen. Klobuchar believes this life-saving drug should be more accessible so she is taking on the drug companies.
"They took a product priced a little over $500 per unit and brought it up to $4,100 per unit. That's a 600 percent increase," she said. "So they did that so they could make more money on the backs of taxpayers and hospitals and everyone else involved in the health care system."
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The drug company kaléo produces Evzio, a naloxone injection. A Senate subcommittee report shows it was priced at $690 in 2014. Today, it costs over $4,000.
"Of course this drug saves lives," says Klobuchar. "We all know that. What they are forgetting to say is how they are making a ton of money over how they classified this product. They basically found a loophole and exploited it and that is just what happened with EpiPen. So it is our job to close the loophole."
Earlier this year the drug company, kaléo, announced a program to offer Evzio to federal and state agencies at a discount, around $360 for a two pack.
Updated: December 07, 2018 10:40 AM
Created: December 04, 2018 08:40 PM
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