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White House Must Cut Prices, Expand Access to Opioid Overdose Antidote

Oct. 23, 2018

White House Must Cut Prices, Expand Access to Opioid Overdose Antidote

Statements by Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen and Mary Beth Haller, Baltimore City Interim Health Commissioner

Note: In May, Public Citizen and then-Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen asked Kellyanne Conway, the administration’s “opioid czar,” to authorize generic competition for lifesaving naloxone therapies with easy-to-use delivery devices, such as Narcan and Evzio, which the administration has the authority to do under existing law. Generic competition would slash prices for the therapy; Narcan sells to public providers at $37.50 a dose while generic naloxone is available for 15 cents in India.

On Wednesday, the Trump administration is expected to announce its future plans to address the opioid addiction epidemic at a signing ceremony for the modest opioid-related bills passed by Congress. Emergent BioSolutions, which recently acquired Adapt Pharma and Narcan nasal spray, is also expected to announce Wednesday that it plans to donate Narcan to every public library and YMCA in the U.S., but that is no substitute for affordable access to all public health authorities.

“If the Trump administration was serious about addressing the opioid addiction epidemic, it would at least do all of the easy things it could to save lives. It is not. By executive action alone, the Trump administration could authorize generic competition for lifesaving – and wildly overpriced – opioid overdose antidotes. But five months after we petitioned the administration to do that, it has failed even to reply. The Trump administration is choosing to protect pharma’s monopolies over saving lives.”

– Robert Weissman, president, Public Citizen

“This past May, we called on the federal government to take action to ensure that those of us on the front lines of the opioid epidemic are able to afford to supply naloxone. We continue to see the number of fatal opioid overdoses increase at an alarming rate, yet we have received no response to that call from Ms. Conway or any other member of the administration. In Baltimore, everyday residents already have used naloxone to save the lives of nearly 3,000 individuals. As the number of lost neighbors, friends and loved ones continues to rise, we are renewing our call to the federal government to take immediate action and help us save lives now.”

– Mary Beth Haller, interim health commissioner, city of Baltimore