Cummings and Sanders Urge States to Combat Overcharging for Critical Drug Used by First Responders

Jul 13, 2015
Press Release

Cummings and Sanders Urge States to Combat Overcharging for Critical Drug Used by First Responders


Washington, D.C.—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Senator Bernard Sanders, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, sent a letter to the National Governors Association, National Lieutenant Governors Association, and National Association of Attorneys General urging their members to follow the lead of New York and other states that are refusing to pay exorbitant prices being charged for a critical drug used by first responders nationwide.

“We believe states across the country are being overcharged for a critical drug called naloxone that is used by first responders and emergency medical personnel to reverse the life-threatening effects of heroin and other opioid overdoses,” Cummings and Sanders wrote.  “The good news is that several states, including New York and Ohio, have successfully negotiated agreements with Amphastar Pharmaceuticals to reduce the final cost of naloxone, and we encourage all of your members to consider doing the same.”

In January, after months of negotiation, the Attorney General of New York announced an agreement with Amphastar to provide rebates of $6 per dose of naloxone paid for directly, or reimbursed by, public agencies within the state.  The agreement also requires Amphastar to increase these rebates to match—dollar-for-dollar—any future price increases.  In March, the Attorney General of Ohio announced a similar agreement with the company.

These actions follow reports that “police and public health officials from New York to San Francisco are facing sticker shock:  Prices for a popular form of the medication, naloxone, are spiking, in some cases by 50 percent or more.” Some have suggested that these price spikes coincide with an increasing number of large city police departments deciding to supply their officers with the drug.

“The opioid abuse epidemic is a public health emergency that must be addressed, and no company should jeopardize the progress many states have made in tackling this emergency by overcharging for a critically important drug like naloxone,” the Members wrote.  “We encourage all of your members to consider negotiating agreements with Amphastar to make naloxone more widely available in every state.” 

Since last fall, Cummings and Sanders have been investigating the increasingly high prices that Amphastar has been charging for naloxone.

Last week, Cummings also sent a letter to the Maryland Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and the Attorney General highlighting concerns specific to his state.  Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford have described opioid abuse as a “public health emergency.”  However, press reports indicate that the price of naloxone in Maryland has increased by 111% in less than eight months, rising from $19 per dose to $41 per dose.  

Click here to read today’s letter to the National Associations of Governors, Lieutenant Governors, and Attorneys General. 

Click here to read last week’s letter to officials from the State of Maryland.

114th Congress