A dramatic rise in prescription opiate and heroin overdoses in the state over the past several years has led to increased demand for a drug that counteract those reactions.
The need for ready access to naloxone, marketed as Narcan, has prompted changes in state law to help make sure ambulance crews and even police officers can carry the life-saving antidote. However, Attorney General Brad Schimel says it has also put a strain on local government budgets, as they constantly find themselves having to administer the drug.
“It’s remarkable that the volume has gotten so huge that it’s become a budget issue,” Schimel said during a press conference in Madison Wednesday. “This is something that, 10 years ago, I don’t think anybody would have imagined that ambulance crews would be administering so much of this that they have to start thinking about whether they can meet their budget at the end of the year.”
To help reduce the cost of the drug for local governments, the state has negotiated a rebate program with Amphastar Pharmaceuticals. It will allow public entities in the state to receive a $6 rebate for each syringe of Narcan purchased through February of next year, reducing the cost of a dose by about 25 percent.
Schimel said the move is essential to making sure a life-saving drug remains available, noting that every time Narcan is used it is saving he life. He warned that not having it accessible to EMS crews responding to an overdose would cause the state’s already climbing death toll from overdoses to spiral upward even faster. “If we faced the thousands of additional deaths, if we didn’t have this antidote to an overdose readily available and affordable…we would be in a position that would be just shocking,” he said.
The state is working to negotiate additional rebates with other pharmaceutical companies that make naloxone.