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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

3/3/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Naloxone hydrochloride effective in treating opium overdoses - but only one company makes it

Naloxone hydrochloride, which also goes under the name of Narcan, is used to treat opium-based drug overdoses. While highly effective in emergency cases, only one company manufactures the drug, and the price has spiked accordingly.

Only one pharmaceutical company, Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, manufactures Narcan in the dosage that's used as a nasal spray. Seven years ago, Massachusetts paid $22 per Narcan kit. Today, that kit costs $42.

Only one pharmaceutical company, Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, manufactures Narcan in the dosage that's used as a nasal spray. Seven years ago, Massachusetts paid $22 per Narcan kit. Today, that kit costs $42.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/3/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Naloxone hydrochloride, overdose, Massachusetts, opiates


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Across the country, a there has been a noticeable uptick in narcotic overdose cases. Government agencies and health clinics across the United States work to provide an anti-overdose drug, Naloxone, to as many as possible.

The city of Revere is one of five Massachusetts communities participating in a state pilot program where emergency responders administer the nasal spray form of the drug to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. There have been more than 2,500 reported overdose reversals in Massachusetts since the program began seven years ago.

"It's just incredible, it's like magic," Michael Viviano, Revere's deputy fire chief says. "There's somebody who's on the ground who's literally dead. They have no pulse. Sometimes they're blue, sometimes they're black. And you administer this stuff and sometimes, in a minute or two or three, they're actually up and talking to you."

In spite of this, overdose deaths continue. Exact numbers are not available, but Massachusetts State Police showing that 185 people have died from heroin overdoses in the past four months.

This figure does not include prescription drug overdoses, or overdose numbers from three major cities, Boston, Springfield and Worcester, where heroin is a known problem.

"What really happened in the last year is there's a realization that these are not two separate epidemics, with prescription opioids and heroin users being different populations or different people," Dr. Alex Walley, medical director for the Massachusetts Narcan pilot program says. He notes that prescription drug users often switch to heroin as it's cheaper and easier to get.

The medical community must shoulder some of the blame. Experts say today's heroin problem can be traced back to the aggressive prescribing of opioid drugs like OxyContin about 15 years ago.

"What we're seeing now is the final common pathway for people who have opioid addiction is to use heroin."

The mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh is trying to get Narcan to anyone who wants it. He has since directed city health workers to offer Narcan training to police, fire officials and anyone who's interested.

While Narcan is handed out free of charge at these sessions, the cost of the drug has increased. Only one pharmaceutical company, Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, manufactures Narcan in the dosage that's used as a nasal spray. Seven years ago, Massachusetts paid $22 per Narcan kit. Today, that kit costs $42.

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