WASHINGTON – As President Donald Trump announced that the opioid epidemic is a public health emergency, Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken called on Trump to allow the government to negotiate lower prices for an opioid overdose reversal drug.
In a letter signed by other Democratic senators, they said that access to the drug naloxone is particularly important given the size of an epidemic that kills 142 people a day.
“Unfortunately, the price of the drug itself has increased dramatically during the epidemic,” the senators wrote.
The prices are highest, they said, for devices that speed naloxone’s delivery. Narcan administers the drug as a nasal spray and costs $150 for a two-pack; a two-pack of Evzio, a naloxone auto-injector, has risen from $690 to $4,500 since 2014.
The senators cited the recommendations of Trump’s own Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and Opioid Crisis to increase access to naloxone, with the declaration of a national emergency empowering the administration to negotiate lower prices.
This year, Minnesota began allowing pharmacies to distribute naloxone without a prescription.
Trump’s declaration drew praise on Twitter from U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn.: “The opioid epidemic affects communities across the U.S., including our own in [the Third District].”
The Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy praised Trump’s move.
“As Congress wraps up its work this year, another substantial investment in one of America’s most pressing issues would be a notable achievement,” said vice president Nick Motu in a statement.