Overdose Antidote’s Rising Cost Could Take It Away From Those Who Need It Most

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — Price hikes are curtailing access to a popular form of an antidote to heroin overdoses, with costs doubling in the past year and the manufacturer’s stock price rising by 70 percent since it went public.

Advocates fear the higher cost of naloxone, often sold in the U.S. under the brand name Narcan, will ultimately lead to the deaths of addicts who could have been saved if they’d had access to the drug.

Officials across the country have largely agreed it makes sense to hand out naloxone to police, drug users and families of addicts, and in some places they’re now scrambling to negotiate discounts for programs that buy it in bulk for public distribution.

“If you have a fire extinguisher that costs several hundred dollars, some people are going to go without and some are going to get burned,” said Daniel Wolfe, director of the international harm reduction program at the Open Society Foundations.

Naloxone reverses the effects of opioids — drugs derived from opium, including heroin — on brain receptors. Advocates say it has no major side effects other than opioid-withdrawal symptoms and does not create a high.

It saved Alicia Gibbons’ daughter after an overdose in New Jersey last year.

Gibbons received training in the injectable form of naloxone while her daughter, Ashley Gibbons, was in jail. A week after being released in April, Ashley Gibbons overdosed in a bathtub at her mother’s home in Mays Landing.

Alicia Gibbons’ boyfriend broke down the door to the bathroom. She said her hands shook as she got the medicine into the syringe to give her unresponsive daughter first one shot of naloxone, then a second. Her daughter convulsed on the floor and vomited; then paramedics arrived.

Ashley Gibbons said her mother saved her.

“She’s always going to be my hero,” she said.

Alicia Gibbons said the —> Read More