For Immediate Release - August 31, 2015

AG Healey Announces $325K Agreement with Naloxone Manufacturer, Dedicates Funds to Help First Responders Statewide Access Life-Saving Drug

AG Healey Reaches First-of-its-Kind Agreement with Amphastar Pharmaceuticals Following Increased Price of Nasal Naloxone; Payment Made to State’s New Bulk Purchasing Trust Fund

BOSTON – In an effort to make the life-saving drug Naloxone more widely available to police and firefighters statewide, Attorney General Maura Healey today announced her office has reached an agreement with Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, Inc. that will require the company to pay $325,000 to help offset the costs of the drug that counters the effects of opioid overdose.

The first-of-its kind payment from the manufacturer to a state will go into the Commonwealth’s Municipal Naloxone Bulk Purchase Trust Fund, approved in the state budget this past July to increase access to the nasal spray version of Naloxone through a discounted program. This payment is the equivalent cost of nearly 10,000 units of naloxone. The trust fund was established with initial state funding of $150,000, making available, in total, the equivalent of 15,000 doses.

“The demand for Narcan to help save the lives of overdose victims has risen sharply, and with that, so has the price, making it tough for police and fire departments to access this critical drug,” AG Healey said. “This money will help us get Narcan into the hands of every first responder, giving them a tool they need to help save lives.”

The agreement with California-based Amphastar resolves AG Healey’s concerns over the sharp price increase for Naloxone (generic version of Narcan) in late 2014, when the wholesale price more than doubled from less than $15 per dose to more than $30. Although the purchase price from distributors has varied between municipalities, some first responders report having paid more than $65 for a single unit of the drug.

The AG’s Office sent a letter to Amphastar earlier this year stating that the increase in pricing could adversely affect access to the drug for state agencies and municipalities in Massachusetts.

In March 2014, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick declared a public health emergency in response to the growing opioid addiction epidemic. The Department of Public Health issued emergency regulatory amendments permitting first responders to carry and administer Naloxone. Since then, numerous first responders have purchased naloxone kits for use in reversing the effects of a heroin or opioid overdose.

Naloxone is a medication that reverses an overdose from heroin or other opioids. It cannot be used to get high and is not addictive. The Naloxone for intra-nasal use is given with a foam tip attached to a syringe that is placed into the nostril. It acts to wake the person up and keep them breathing.

Today’s announcement comes as the world marks International Overdose Awareness Day. In Massachusetts last year, the heroin and opioid epidemic claimed the lives of more than 1,200 people.

This announcement is another way the Attorney General’s Office is working to address the growing addiction crisis in Massachusetts. The AG’s Office is looking at a host of other practices, from marketing by pharmaceutical companies, to dispensing by pharmacies, to pill diversion and drug trafficking by criminal entities, to coverage for substance abuse treatment by insurance companies. The AG’s Office is also working on solutions that include eliminating barriers to treatment, and supporting prevention and education initiatives across the state.

Today’s agreement was handled by Eric Gold of AG Healey’s Health Care Division.


Statements of support:

Marylou Sudders, Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services and chair of the Governor's Opioid Working Group:
“We heard through our listening sessions across the state -- from parents, siblings, and those who struggle with addiction themselves -- about the life-saving ability of naloxone. Today's announcement will help broaden access to this intervention, which was an important recommendation of the Working Group and will expand this life-saving measure.”

Senate President Stan Rosenberg:
“This settlement more than triples the amount allocated for the bulk purchasing of Narcan program that was included in this year’s budget.  As a result, local cities and towns will save on the cost of this life saving drug and local first responders will have another tool to save lives and fight the opiate epidemic. The quick action by the Attorney General to address the increased cost of Narcan and the action by the Legislature to set up the bulk purchasing program have delivered significant results in a relatively short amount of time. We still have work to do in fighting the opiate scourge but this is a significant step in the right direction.”

Senator John Keenan:
“I’m proud of Quincy’s pioneering work in changing the way we approach drug addiction, and of the efforts by first responders throughout the Commonwealth who have saved thousands of lives. Today we take an important step to support cities and towns, and I’m thankful to my fellow legislators for establishing this bulk purchasing fund, and to Attorney General Healey for providing the first major push that will get this fund into operation. We must also remember, however, that this is only one small part of combatting drug addiction, and that every overdose reversal is a last minute save. We need to continue building programs and policies that prevent addiction, and provide access to addiction treatment, long before that overdose can occur.”

Boston Fire Commissioner/Chief Joseph Finn:
“Since 2014, Boston’s firefighters have seen firsthand the value of Narcan. We have administered it over 450 times with great success. Cost should never be a factor when first responders are called to help. This agreement will ensure all of us continue our mission of helping those in need.”

Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts President Rick DeLorie:
“President of the Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts, Chief Rick DeLorie of Wellesley applauds the work of Attorney General Maura Healey in obtaining funds for the Municipal Naloxone Bulk Purchase Trust Fund which will assist local public safety departments offset the high cost of providing the necessary life-saving drug for use in reversing the effects of opiate overdose.”

William Brooks III, Norwood Police Chief, Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association Vice President:
The purchasing arrangement announced today by Attorney General Healy is in important one for public safety in Massachusetts.  Every day police officers across Massachusetts administer Narcan to people in the throes of opiate overdoses, in keeping with our core mission to protect human life. Centralizing its purchase and establishing a stable price will go a long way to helping first responders on their important work.

Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello:
“In launching the Gloucester ANGEL Initiative earlier this year, the availability and unfair pricing of Naloxone was one of the first and most pressing challenges we faced. The Attorney General's continuous and tireless efforts to ensure Naloxone is available and affordable for not only public safety officials, but for every person who needs this life saving drug, is admirable, and pharmaceutical companies must be made to understand that they do not have the right to unfairly capitalize on human suffering. The Gloucester Police Department is proud to stand with Attorney General Healey today on this issue. The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI), a nationwide support system of law enforcement officials concerned about the disease of addiction, also lends its voice in support of Attorney General Healey's achievement. She is a tremendous partner to law enforcement.”