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Indiana restocking supplies of pricey drug to combat opioid overdoses

May 26, 2017

Indiana is gearing up to replenish its supplies of naloxone, a popular treatment for opioid overdoses that has seen huge price increases in recent years.

The Indiana Department of Administration is calling for vendors to submit bids by June 12. The state wants to buy 2,700 syringes, each with 2 milligrams of generic naloxone, and 5,400 nasal atomizers. The products would be made available to agencies across the state.

Indiana saw a more than 300 percent increase in the number of overdose deaths from heroin between 2010 and 2015, climbing from 54 to 239, according to state statistics. During that same period, opioid-painkiller deaths increased by nearly 20 percent.

Naloxone is a 40-year-old drug that reverses the symptoms of opioid overdoses, including drowsiness, slowed breathing and loss of consciousness.

Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services, one agency that uses naloxone, last year administered 1,818 doses, up from 629 doses in 2013.

But the price has been climbing, costing governments huge sums to keep up with the epidemic. Some emergency departments have said the cost has tripled since 2013, to $30 a dose for the injectable naloxone.

The price of an injectable naloxone product sold by Hospira has increased from $62 in 2012 to $142 last year, according to the New England Journal of Medicine, using figures from Wolters Kluwer Clinical Drug Information.

In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration fast-tracked approval of the first auto-injector formulation, a fixed single-dose injection designed to allow people without medical training to reverse opioid addictions, the medical journal said. The price of a two-pack soared from $690 in 2014 to $4,500 last year.

Indiana State Health Commissioner has said communities across the state are having a hard time maintaining and paying for a supply of naloxone.

In October, the Indiana Attorney General’s office announced a $400,000 grant would be distributed across the state to help equip first responders with naloxone.

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