Connecting state and local government leaders
The product is expected to hit shelves in the coming weeks.
A new nasal spray, which can counteract the potentially lethal effects of opioid drug overdoses, is set to become available to thousands of state and local agencies around the U.S. at a discounted price, under an agreement announced on Thursday.
The deal was unveiled by four state and local government organizations and the manufacturer and distributor of the drug, Adapt Pharma, Inc. Based on the terms of the agreement, the product, Narcan Nasal Spray, will be offered to about 62,000 state and local agencies, and nonprofit groups, at 40 percent off, or $37.50 per dose. That price, however, is contingent on certain conditions, including a minimum order requirement.
“This is a great step forward for us to be able to reduce deaths,” Sallie Clark, president of the National Association of Counties, said by phone on Thursday. Clark is also a commissioner in El Paso County, Colorado, which is south of Denver and encompasses Colorado Springs.
Opioids include heroin, which is illegal, and prescription painkillers such as Vicodin, OxyContin, Opana and Methadone. Taken in excessive amounts, the drugs can cause death from “respiratory depression”—a term used to refer to reduced breathing.
The nasal spray contains naloxone hydrochloride, which can completely, or partially, reverse the effects of an overdose. The substance has been available in injectable forms for decades. In November, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Narcan spray version. The nasal spray is expected to become available in the coming weeks.
Deaths from prescription painkillers in the U.S. have quadrupled since 1999, killing more than 16,000 people in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC also points out that nearly two million Americans, who were 12 or older, either abused or were dependent on opioids in 2013. Compared to the early 2000s, heroin deaths are also up. Between 2002 and 2013, heroin overdose fatality rates almost quadrupled in the U.S., to 2.7 deaths, from 0.7 deaths per 100,000 people, a report the CDC issued last July said.
Trends in El Paso County have to some extent mirrored what is happening nationally.
Between 2000 and 2002, there were 161 drug poisoning deaths there. Between 2012 and 2014 there were 337, according to state data Clark cited.
Medical first responders in El Paso County are already equipped with injectable naloxone hydrochloride, Clark said. She explained that police agencies there are making plans to have the nasal spray on hand after it becomes available
In addition to the National Association of Counties, the other groups partnering in the agreement announced Thursday included the National Governors Association, National League of Cities and The United States Conference of Mayors. The discounted price for the spray will be available through the U.S. Communities Government Purchasing Alliance and Premier, Inc.
Premier is an alliance of about 3,600 U.S. hospitals and 120,000 other healthcare providers, and says it works to improve the performance of healthcare organizations.
The Purchasing Alliance looks to pool the purchasing power of state and local government agencies and nonprofit groups.
“This public-private partnership,” Clarence Anthony, CEO and executive director of the National League of Cities, said in a statement on Thursday, and “is a vital step in stemming the opioid addiction epidemic in our communities.”
Bill Lucia is a Reporter for Government Executive’s Route FIfty.