Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
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Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
Pharmaguy curates and provides insights into selected drug industry news and issues.
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Trump’s National Health Emergency Falls Short. The Missing Piece? Naloxone

Trump’s National Health Emergency Falls Short. The Missing Piece? Naloxone | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

The Trump administration’s designation of the opioid crisis as a public health emergency on Thursday paves the way for officials to increase access to inpatient addiction treatment, redirect some federal resources, and launch a major public education campaign [but read “Does Trump's Opioid Crisis National Health Emergency Offer Anything That Hasn't Already Been Implemented?”;].


But the announcement included nothing about access to naloxone, the overdose-reversal drug that first responders across the country have credited with saving innumerable lives.


“I think this was a missed opportunity,” said Regina LaBelle, the chief of staff for the Office of National Drug Control Policy under former president Barack Obama. “They could have purchased naloxone and distributed it to hard-hit areas, to local governments as well as to community groups.”


Another policy expert in Capitol Hill circles indicated the administration could also put out a bid document for drug manufacturers for naloxone and addiction treatment drugs. After negotiating a new and deeper price discount, the federal government could allow state and local governments access to the drug at the cheaper price point — an action the administration has not yet taken.


While LaBelle and other drug policy authorities celebrated the administration’s push to expand treatment capacity and allow telemedicine-based access to medication-assisted treatment, many said President Trump’s announcement had fallen short of recommendations from a commission he created in March to address the opioid crisis.

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Here's a Good Example of Why #Pharma's Rep is So F**ked Up. But That's Free Enterprise, i.e., Capitalism!

Here's a Good Example of Why #Pharma's Rep is So F**ked Up. But That's Free Enterprise, i.e., Capitalism! | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |
Price surges for naloxone could deter efforts to curb heroin overdoses.

The ongoing fight over Big Pharma’s pricing policies continues as congressional leaders shift their focus to a drug that police departments use to treat heroin overdoses. While law enforcement agencies have become more accepting of this approach to combat drug abuse, recent price spikes put the future of city and state distribution programs in jeopardy.

Earlier this week, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) blasted Amphaster Pharmaceuticals, the maker of the drug naloxone, in a letter in which the duo questioned the rationale of increasing the price of the drug during a time when heroin overdose deaths have more than tripled within a three-year period.

“Over the past several months, police departments, law enforcement agencies, and public health officials across the country have warned about the increasing price of naloxone, which they use to combat the scourge of heroin abuse,” Sanders and Cummings wrote in their letter.

Naloxone, a generic drug that’s also known as Narcan, reverses the effects of potentially fatal opioid overdoses by relieving the depression of the nervous and respiratory systems and quelling symptoms of hypertension. Nearly half of U.S. states have passed laws granting wider access to naloxone, which can be administered in the bloodstream and through the nostrils. Doctors in those states can prescribe naloxone to friends and family members of opioid abusers. These measures also remove liability from people who dole out the drug, including police officers.

In April 2014, the Food and Drug Administration approved Evzio, a user-friendly naloxone injector to the satisfaction of public health officials and advocates. However, a sticker price of more than $400 keeps the tool out of the hands of many people who would prefer having the drug on hand in case a friend or family member overdoses. The price of the formula that can be injected nasally also doubled to the chagrin of law enforcement officials and heads of nonprofits, many of whom have turned to Amphaster — its sole producer — for answers.

“You’re being held at the whim of companies that can do what they want because they have a monopoly on a drug,” Eliza Wheeler, project manager for the Harm Reduction Coalition’s DOPE Program, told MedPage Today in November 2014. “The balance of our program rests on whether we can afford a product. That they can wantonly raise the price is terrifying.”

Pharma Guys insight:

This year, police departments across the country, including in New York City, announced plans to stock up on a medication that reverses the effects of a heroin or opioid painkiller overdose.

The move signaled a shifting approach for officers more accustomed to fighting drug abuse with arrests than with a medical antidote.

But police and public health officials from New York to San Francisco are facing sticker shock: Prices for a popular form of the medication, naloxone, are spiking, in some cases by 50 percent or more.

What's going on is a spike across the board in generic dug prices. 

Historically costing pennies on the dollar compared with a brand-name drug, generic drugs have long been considered a vital weapon in the fight to contain soaring health-care costs. But in the past year, the price of many generics has disconcertingly moved in the wrong direction, drawing the attention of Congress and pinching the wallets of consumers as well as pharmacies and insurers.

“We are talking about the need of the American people to be able to afford the medicine that their doctors prescribe,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., chairman of a Senate health-care subcommittee, said at a hearing on the issue late last week. “There appears to be now a trend in the industry where a number of drugs are going up at extraordinary rates. We wanted to know if there was a rational economic reason as to why patients saw these price increases or whether it was simply a question of greed.”

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