(COLUMBUS, Ohio)— Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced today he is requesting that Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a manufacturer of naloxone, provide rebates to consumers such as police departments and other agencies that distribute the drug in Ohio after the company dramatically increased its prices.
Naloxone reverses the effects of opioids on the brain and can limit or stop an overdose when given to an individual overdosing on heroin or a prescription opioid. Ohio's use of the drug to counter opioid overdoses is steadily growing in Ohio with naloxone having been administered an estimated 74,000 times in Ohio between 2003 and 2012. More than 10,500 of those doses were administered in 2012 alone.
"Ohio has worked hard to get naloxone in the right hands," wrote Attorney General DeWine in a letter to Amphastar's Chief Executive Officer Jack Zhang, Ph.D. "Without warning, Amphastar chose to dramatically increase its naloxone prices. This decision will make efforts to save lives much more difficult."
According to Cuyahoga County Project DAWN, the wholesale price of Amphastar naloxone varied with their hospital distributor between $12.78 and $14.00 a vial in 2013 and early 2014, and by October 2014, the price jumped to $28.50 a vial.
Earlier this month, Amphastar reached an agreement with the state of New York regarding the cost of naloxone, resulting in a $6 dollar rebate per dose. Attorney General DeWine is requesting a similar agreement between the company and Ohio.
"Given Ohio's use and promotion of naloxone, I would ask for the same consideration you gave the state of New York and seek an agreement similar to what you offered New York," wrote Attorney General DeWine. "The $6.00 rebate per dose for police departments and other agencies who distribute naloxone would make a tremendous difference."
Naloxone Letter The letter, which was mailed on Friday, can be found here.
Ohio, like many other states, has been severely plagued by the opiate epidemic, with heroin contributing to as many as 18 overdose deaths a week in 2013.
Following a 2014 law allowing Ohio law enforcement officers to carry and administer naloxone, Attorney General DeWine's Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy created a training video for law enforcement regarding the administration of the drug.
The training course, which can be accessed by officers online through the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway (OHLEG), teaches risk factors for overdoses, signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose, and steps for administering naloxone. More than 1,400 law enforcement officers have completed the course to date.
In addition to law enforcement, the law also gave friends, family members, or others who may be in the position to assist someone suffering from an opioid overdose the ability to administer naloxone as long as they receive the drug from a licensed health professional. Therefore, an educational video similar to the training course was also created by the Attorney General's Office as an informational and awareness tool for community members.