At a time when states are experiencing a crisis with opioid addiction, there is now an antidote to help. A state law went into effect in Pennsylvania that allows more people to administer the drug Naloxone, otherwise known as Narcan. But with more demand comes a rising price tag and concern.
Narcan, when sprayed up a person's nose can reverse the effects of an Opioid overdose.
"A variety of people, police departments, fire departments, it's opened up the market to a lot of people," said Joseph Stevens, of York Regional EMS, who has seen Narcan retail for as high as $52 per dose.
York EMS in Yoe has a two-year contract with a supplier under which Narcan is about $16 per dose. But Stevens wonders what prices will be like when the contract is up. "That's a tremendous increase. It's more than double the cost, so it's a great deal of concern," said Stebens.
Delaware County is the first in Pennsylvania to purchase Narcan for their police departments since the law passed. The District Attorney's Office purchased 1,000 doses to equip each police car with two doses.
"We recognized that price may be a factor because of supply and demand with the drug once the legislation was passed. We knew that many of the counties would be purchasing it, so we wanted to get out in front and purchase it," said Jack Whelan Delaware County District Attorney.
A few officers have already had to use Narcan, so Delaware County placed another order. This time, the cost went up. "When we originally purchased it, it was approximately $20.00 for each dose, which included the atomizer, which is an attachment to be able to spray into the nasal cavity. However, we also just placed an order for 100 additional doses and now we are seeing the increase and it’s approximately $32.00 per dose," said Whelan. "We’ve told the individual police departments that they should consider looking in the future of budgeting for the doses of Narcan, however, if it keeps going up it will be a fluid number that we will have to stabilize."
FOX43 reached out to the company, Amphastar Pharmaceuticals about the price increase, but did not get a response.
It's not just Pennsylvania seeing the rising cost. A recent New York Times article highlights a letter that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman wrote to the CEO of the Pharmaceutical company asking for answers about the price increase.