Connecticut will receive a popular drug used to counteract the effects of opioid overdoses at a reduced cost, thanks to a settlement reached between the state and drugmaker.
Amphastar Pharmaceuticals Inc. will give the state a $6 rebate for every dose of naloxone bought by state, municipal or local town agencies over the next year, according to Gov. Dannel Malloy and state Attorney General George Jepsen.
Naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan, is used to counter the effects of opioid overdoses — from drugs including heroin and prescription painkillers. Connecticut has enacted new laws in recent years to make the drug more widely available to law enforcement and first responders, and last fall questioned large price increases for the medication.
In light of the price spikes, Jepsen wrote to Amphastar CEO Jack Zhang in September seeking a chance to explore options with the drugmaker to address increased costs amid tough economic times.
Under the new agreement, Amphastar will give a $6-per-dose rebate for the purchase of naloxone, whether it be directly from the company or from a third party. Naxolone’s retail price is between $33 and $60 a dose, depending on the distributor and volume being bought, according to Jepsen.
Amphastar has agreed not to raise its wholesale per-dose cost for the drug for a year. If the wholesale cost is increased, the rebate amount given to the state and town agencies will increase as well.
The rebates will be available for one year and began in March, according to Jepsen, who said the company has reached similar deals with New York, Ohio, Wisconsin, and other states.
Amphastar officials did not return a call seeking comment.
Connecticut officials believe increased access to the drug will help combat a rise in opioid addiction and abuse.
“We know for a fact that naloxone saves lives: it has saved lives in Connecticut, and it has saved lives across the country,” Jepsen said in a statement. “While access to naloxone will not solve the opioid epidemic that has gripped every community and every demographic in our state, it is a critical tool for law enforcement, first responders and addiction treatment advocates as we all work to address this crisis.”
Jepsen said any local police and fire departments, school districts and municipal agencies that don’t already have a naloxone program should “take advantage of this opportunity” to equip their personnel.
“Addiction is a complex issue that requires a coordinated, multi-faceted approach. Access to Narcan is critical.” Malloy said in a statement. “That’s why we’ve broken down barriers to boost accessibility, that’s why we’ve changed our laws and equipped first responders with it, and that’s why we’re pleased to make this announcement today. We need to continue taking steps to mitigate this alarming trend, and this (agreement) is a step in that direction.”
Opioid addiction and abuse have garnered increasing attention at the state and national levels as opioid-related deaths rise.
Connecticut has taken several steps in recent years to combat the trend, according to Malloy, including: the 2011 adoption of Good Samaritan laws that protect people from being prosecuted for minor drug crimes if they seek medical attention for a friend overdosing; the 2012 adoption of third-party laws allowing naloxone to be prescribed to someone who isn’t the direct user of the drug; the 2014 expansion of Good Samaritan laws to protect people who administer naloxone, in good faith, to save a life; and 2015 legislation that, among other provisions, allows pharmacists to prescribe naloxone.