Naloxone price hike won’t affect local first responders, may hit addicts’ family members

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – So far this year, Three Rivers Ambulance Authority first responders have administered naloxone, or narcan, 47 times. It’s the drug that can reverse an opioid overdose. Some forms of it are skyrocketing in price.

A two pack of the naloxone brand evzio has gone up from under $700 to $4,500. It’s an easier-to-use form of naloxone. Those who are not medically trained like a loved one trying to protect an addict are more likely to feel the pinch than first responders.

In a letter to the pharmaceutical company Kaleo a group of nearly 30 U.S. Senators, including Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly, wrote as the opioid epidemic gets worse. They said 30,000 people are expected to die a year of opioid overdoses.

As more people are being affected, more versions of the drug nalolxone are coming out including the Kaleo’s version called evzio. In the letter the senators urged Kaleo to decrease the price saying the device is easy to use for non medical professionals looking to protect family members. They wrote Kaleo has responded to the increase need for naloxone by ‘ratcheting up’ the price.

“We haven’t seen a significant price increase yet,” TRAA Director of Clinical Services Ben Goldsberry said. “The kind the general public can get through the pharmacy, I’ve heard those are going up.”

First responders with Three Rivers Ambulance Authority use the commonly known naloxone brand narcan. It’s injected through the nose or via IV. Even more is being stocked on the ambulances.

So far this year it’s been administered 47 times. That’s on average more than once a day.

“Three or four years ago we may have seen one or two a week versus the one a day we’re seeing now,” Goldsberry said.

In all of 2016, TRAA administered narcan 383 times. 2017 is on track to pass that. In Dec. 2016 it was administered 34 times. The next month, January 2017, it was given 42 times.

TRAA first responders aren’t the only ones giving the antidote. FWFD can also administer narcan. Since staring the narcan program in August 2015 firefighters have given it 164 times. In December 2016 it was given 26 times. So far this year that number is 27.