COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The financial burden facing local EMS departments in fighting the opiate overdose epidemic will soon be a little bit lighter.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine negotiated a price freeze with the company Adapt Pharma last week for the drug naloxone (also known as Narcan), which counteracts the effects of heroin and other opiates and saves people from overdoses.
Adapt Pharma is the only U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved pharmaceutical company that makes naloxone doses that can be administered through a nasal spra, as opposed to an injection.
This price freeze would keep the current cost of nasal spray naloxone at $75 for two doses over the next year. And for first responders who were using 30-35 doses per day during the summer at the cost of thousands of dollars, this comes as a relief.
“This really allows us to keep the expanded treatment program we have in place,” Cincinnati Assistant Fire Chief of Operations Roy Winston said. “At least now if we did have another spike in overdoses, we can know the price of naloxone will remain the same if we have to buy more.”
The Cincinnati Fire Department recently trained 12 fire truck units to carry and administer naloxone to overdose victims, and the new guaranteed price of nasal spray naloxone allows those units to continue to carry naloxone, Winston said.
Medic and fire truck units recently made the switch over the summer from administering naloxone through injection needles to nasal spray because nasal spray’s ease of use and from the fear of dirty needles after injection, Winston said.
“We want to work with Mike DeWine and keep the drug accessible in Ohio,” Adapt Pharma CEO Mike Kelly, said. “We want to just get it out there to help people.”
DeWine back in March also came into an agreement with another pharmaceutical company to provide rebates on naloxone dose syringes, allowing local Ohio governments and first responders to buy syringes at six dollars.
Liam Niemeyer is a fellow in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism Statehouse News Bureau. You can reach him at email@example.com.