WASHINGTON, D.C.—As part of a multifaceted approach to address our nation’s opioid abuse and heroin public health crisis, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Aging Committee, have written to five companies regarding their efforts to preserve the accessibility of the opioid reversal drug naloxone.
“As we work to address a complex public health crisis, it is important that naloxone, a potentially lifesaving tool, be accessible,” the Senators wrote.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported more than 27,000 overdose deaths involving prescription opioid medications, heroin, or both in 2014,” the Senators continued. “This troubling statistic might have been even higher if not for the use of naloxone, a critically important drug that has been used to reverse opioid overdoses for the last 45 years…Naloxone alone will not solve our addiction crisis, but remains critical during emergencies.”
A recent Politico article, however, noted that the price of at least one version of naloxone reportedly rose 17-fold in the last two years. In addition, a Healthline article indicated that hospitals have reported difficulty obtaining sufficient quantities of the drug.
In response to these reports, Senators Collins and McCaskill wrote to the five companies that manufacture naloxone to provide insight into “what actions [they] are taking to ensure continued and improved access to naloxone, an explanation for price changes in [their] company’s naloxone product, and a description of the available resources and tools to prevent barriers to access and shortages of this critical and life-saving medication.”
This information request is part of the Aging Committee’s interest in heroin and opioid addiction and ways to address this public health crisis. The Committee recently held a hearing titled: Opioid Use Among Seniors—Issues and Emerging Trends to explore the medical use of opioids for pain relief and the challenges health care providers face in treating pain in an environment where the diversion of prescription painkillers is contributing to the ongoing opioid epidemic.