For Immediate Release - November 25, 2015

AG's Office, Department of Public Health Announce Process for First Responders to Purchase Discount Naloxone

Municipal Naloxone Bulk Purchasing Fund to Sell Generic Version of Life-Saving Drug Narcan for $20 per Unit; Teleflex Incorporated to Donate Atomization Devices

BOSTON – As the holiday season approaches – a time when overdose rates have traditionally spiked – the Attorney General Maura Healey and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) announced today that cities and towns across the state can immediately begin purchasing the life-saving overdose reversal drug naloxone at a discounted rate.

The Massachusetts Municipal Naloxone Bulk Purchasing Trust Fund allows first responders to buy naloxone at a deeply discounted rate of $20 per dose, and have the drug along with an atomization delivery device sent directly to them. Until now, municipalities have been paying anywhere between $33.27 and $66.89 per dose of naloxone, not including the cost of the atomizer, according to data from the AG’s Office.

This announcement is possible, in part, thanks to a charitable donation from Teleflex Incorporated, a global provider of medical devices, which manufactures the atomization devices. Teleflex will provide LMA® MAD Nasal Intranasal Mucosal Atomization Devices to help offset the cost even further for first responders.

“More and more of our police and fire are responding to overdoses, and it’s important they have affordable access to this critical drug,” AG Healey said. “We are pleased to work with the Department of Public Health to implement this program immediately, and I am deeply grateful to Teleflex for its generous contribution to the fund, which will help us save even more lives in Massachusetts.”

“The use of naloxone has saved lives across Massachusetts, and is one of our state’s greatest success stories in the fight against the opioid epidemic,” said DPH Commissioner Monica Bharel.  “This critical effort to lower the cost of naloxone will allow more municipalities, first responders, and those most likely to witness overdoses to be more prepared and equipped to save lives.” 

In August 2015, the AG’s Office secured a first-of-its kind payment of $325,000 from Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the manufacturer of naloxone, following concerns over the sharp price increase for its naloxone in late 2014, when the wholesale price more than doubled from less than $15 per dose to more than $30. This payment, along with funding of $100,000 from the Legislature, has made available the equivalent of more than 20,000 doses.

Naloxone is a medication that effectively reverses an overdose from heroin or other opioids. Naloxone blocks the impact of opioids, and restores normal breathing when sprayed into the nose of someone who has overdosed. It is safe, easy to administer, and has no potential for abuse. There has been a significant increase in cost and demand for naloxone since the beginning of the opioid epidemic. 

In March 2014, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick declared a public health emergency in response to the growing opioid addiction epidemic. DPH 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.

Addressing the growing addiction crisis in Massachusetts continues to be a top priority for Attorney General Healey and the Baker-Polito Administration. 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.

Earlier this year, the Governor convened an Opioid Working Group that made 65 specific recommendations to combat the epidemic, including increasing the number of available beds, reducing the stigma of addiction, and lowering the number of abuse-prone prescription opioids given to patients.

Any first responder municipality with a Mass Controlled Substance Registration can purchase naloxone through the State Office of Pharmacy Services (SOPS). Most orders can be processed in 2-3 days, depending on availability from the wholesaler.

Municipalities interested in purchasing naloxone with atomization devices through the fund can learn more at this website.