Narcan Nasal Spray Gets 12-Month Price Freeze in Ohio

By McCarton Ackerman 12/05/16

Local law enforcement will no longer have to worry about how they'll afford to stock the lifesaving drug.

A hand holding Narcan nasal spray.
Photo via Narcan/YouTube

Ohio has broken new ground by becoming the first state to get a price freeze on life-saving overdose reversal drug naloxone, making the drug more affordable as its cost continues to soar across the country.

Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine made the announcement that Adapt Pharma, which makes the Narcan nasal spray, will freeze the price across the state for one year. A carton of two, 4 mg doses will remain at $75, a 40% drop from the wholesale acquisition price of $125.

However, the drug must be purchased directly from Adapt Pharma and in quantities greater than 48 units in order to receive the discount.

"The cost to purchase naloxone has prevented some agencies from carrying this life-saving drug, but I hope that Adapt Pharma's new price freeze for Ohio will allow more agencies to consider keeping naloxone on hand," Dewine said in a news release. "I continue to urge law enforcement agencies to carry this drug, because it can mean the difference between life and death for those suffering from addiction."

A spokesman for Adapt Pharma said their Public Interest Price program isn’t new, but that Ohio is the first state to have it in place for a fixed amount of time. The company also confirmed that they are also in talks with other attorney generals in the hopes of making similar arrangements across the country.

For local law enforcement and emergency medical service departments in Ohio, the lowered cost means they no longer have to mull over how they’ll continue to afford to stock the drug.

"It's a life-saving benefit to be able to have that price reduction...As the demand [for naloxone] has gone up, the production hasn't necessarily gone up, which keeps us supplied a lower level and drives the price up,” said Chief Deputy Richard Grau at the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office. "To keep that price at a level where folks can afford to go get it and it can be provided to law enforcement, that's been a huge benefit for all of us."

Naloxone costs have continued to soar in recent years. A September 2015 NPR report found that Baltimore’s City Health Department had the cost for naloxone doubled that July, despite the price having already doubled the previous year.

Information provided by Truven Health Analytics also showed that a per-dose cost of an injectable version of the drug had gone from $0.92 to more than $15 over the past decade, while an auto-injector version now costs more than $2,000 per dose.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.