A generic version of naloxone has steeply increased in price in recent weeks.

3 Dec 2014

Amid a sudden and sharp increase in the price of a heroin antidote medication, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman of New York on Monday wrote to the chief executive of a company that makes the drug, demanding an explanation for what he called an “unacceptable” rise.

The strongly worded two-page letter amplified a growing chorus of complaints by the police and public health officials from Georgia to San Francisco about a recent jump in the cost of the drug, naloxone, which counteracts the effect of a heroin or opioid painkiller overdose. In some cases, the price more than doubled.

While the drug comes in injectable and intranasal forms, most police departments use a high-concentration formulation made by Amphastar Pharmaceuticals that can be sprayed into the nostril with an atomizer attachment.

It is that generic version of the drug that has steeply increased in price in recent weeks.

"These increases threaten to curtail access to a drug just when it is needed most,” Mr. Schneiderman wrote to Jack Y. Zhang, the chief executive of Amphastar. “To date, Amphastar Pharmaceuticals has failed to provide any satisfactory explanation for dramatically increasing the price of a critical lifesaving drug."

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