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Maker of Narcan Nasal Spray Plans to Sell Overdose Antidote for Less Than $50

FRIDAY, April 21, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- The company that makes the opioid overdose nasal spray Narcan plans to have it available in pharmacies and online by late summer for a price of less than $50.

Emergent sent a response letter Thursday to Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who had sent a letter to the company earlier this month asking about “the affordable OTC Narcan list price that your company intends to set.”

“A goal for the out-of-pocket retailer price is to be consistent with our public interest pricing … although retail price is set by individual retailers,” Emergent said in a statement.

Pricing is currently less than $50, on average, for a kit that contains two 4-milligram doses, when purchased by government agencies, nonprofits and first responders. The wholesale price is $125.

“Currently, your product is reported as having a wholesale price as high as $120 for two doses, with significant variation in price, depending on location and insurance coverage. Individuals without insurance -- about one-fifth of people with opioid use disorder are uninsured -- will be forced to bear the full cost,” Blumenthal wrote in his letter to the company.

“Even individuals with insurance and low co-pays can struggle to afford Narcan,” Blumenthal continued. “I ask you to commit to work with public health experts, addiction specialists and community activists to develop and determine a list price for OTC Narcan that makes it affordable and accessible for those who need it most.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved OTC Narcan nasal spray last month to be sold without a prescription. Retail pharmacies dispensed about 1.2 million prescriptions of naloxone in 2021, according to the American Medical Association.

Continued federal funding for substance abuse treatment and prevention programs, with initiatives that distribute Narcan, are important, Emergent said in its letter. The company also noted the importance of private insurers, Medicare and Medicaid covering Narcan.

Deaths from opioids are rising in the United States, up 17% between 2020 and 2021, CNN reported.

Naloxone, the drug in Narcan, must be used as soon as signs of overdose appear. It restores breathing while blocking opioids’ impact on the brain.

Most overdoses can be reversed with just the first dose in the kit, though the second is there in case someone doesn’t respond to the first, CNN reported.

Even babies and children may receive the antidote. More than 9,000 kids and adolescents died of opioid poisoning between 1999 and 2016. The majority were ages 15 to 19, according to CNN.

They are among the nearly 1 million people who’ve died in the past 20 years from drug overdose, many from opioids, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More information

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has more on naloxone.

SOURCE: CNN