The cost of naloxone, the opioid overdose antidote, is rising as demand increases, NPR reports.
In Baltimore, the City Health Department was paying about $20 a dose in February. The price had risen to almost $40 by July.
The nation's worsening heroin epidemic is driving the increased demand for naloxone, also known as Narcan, the article notes.
Baltimore has expanded its naloxone training for people who use drugs and their families and friends. Almost 4,400 people have been trained so far this year—more than four times the number trained last year. Baltimore and other cities are using intranasal naloxone, which can be sprayed into the nostril.
U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland says manufacturers of naloxone, particularly Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, are to blame for the price increase. "When drug companies increase their prices and charge exorbitant rates, they decrease the access to the drug," he said. "There's something awfully wrong with that picture."
Amphastar says it increased prices because of rising manufacturing costs, including the price of raw materials, labor and energy.
Earlier this year, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said it would provide more funds to distribute naloxone to first responders and family. HHS announced an expanded grants program for states to buy naloxone.
A government study released in June found use of naloxone kits resulted in almost 27,000 drug overdose reversals between 1996 and 2014. Providing naloxone kits to laypersons reduces overdose deaths, is safe, and is cost-effective, the researchers noted.