U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Joins Colleagues to Call on Administration to Take Immediate Action to Reduce Price of Life-Saving Opioid Overdose Reversal Drug
“No police officer, no firefighter, no public health provider, and no person should be unable to save a life because of the high price,” wrote the lawmakers.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin joined 15 of her colleagues to call on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to take immediate action to reduce the price of naloxone, a life-saving opioid overdose reversal drug. The Senators’ letter follows a recent national advisory issued by the United States Surgeon General urging more Americans to keep on hand and learn how to use naloxone delivery devices.
“No police officer, no firefighter, no public health provider, and no person should be unable to save a life because of the high price,” wrote the lawmakers. “By bringing down the cost, we can get this life-saving drug in the hands of more people as called for by the Surgeon General. Doing so will save countless lives.”
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow led the letter and Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Tina Smith (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Angus King (I-ME), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Gary Peters (D-MI) also signed the letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
The full text of the letter is below.
April 18, 2018
The Honorable Alex Azar
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201
Dear Secretary Azar:
We write to ask the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to take immediate action to increase access and reduce the price of naloxone auto-injectors and nasal sprays; life-saving opioid overdose reversal products. We believe that every individual, municipality, and entity that wants to equip themselves with these products should be able to afford to.
The opioid epidemic claimed the lives of 42,249 Americans in 2016 – about 115 Americans every day. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50, exceeding the peak car crash and H.I.V. deaths. Unfortunately, despite the progress health care providers, first responders, state governments, and others have made in fighting the epidemic, data from the CDC suggests that the problem is still getting worse, as there were more than 45,000 deaths from August 2017 to August 2018.
As you know, United States Surgeon General Dr. Jerome M. Adams issued a national advisory urging more Americans to keep on hand and learn how to use naloxone delivery devices. He states that, “increasing the availability and targeted distribution of naloxone is a critical component of our efforts to reduce opioid-related overdose deaths and, when combined with the availability of effective treatment, to ending the opioid epidemic.” We strongly agree.
Such high prices are already leaving local fire, police, and health departments struggling to afford naloxone, and many Americans will want to follow the Surgeon General’s advisory only to realize they are unable to afford the drug that could save their own life or the life of someone they know. The Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis recommended empowering the HHS Secretary to negotiate reduced pricing, and in October 2017 19 Senators wrote in support of this policy. To date, no such action has been taken by HHS. We urge HHS to immediately negotiate a lower price for easy to administer naloxone combination products. In addition, we ask you to ensure affordable coverage for individuals with health insurance, including Medicare, Medicaid, and individual and employer sponsored plans.
No police officer, no firefighter, no public health provider, and no person should be unable to save a life because of the high price. By bringing down the cost, we can get this life-saving drug in the hands of more people as called for by the Surgeon General. Doing so will save countless lives.
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