State reaches rebate deal on price of overdose reversal drug

this is a picture of Naloxone, which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose

Arielle Levin Becker /

Naloxone, which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose

State officials have reached an agreement with the maker of the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone to receive a $6 rebate for each dose of the drug purchased by a Connecticut government agency.

Attorney General George Jepsen wrote to Amphastar Pharmaceuticals in September to ask about what he described as a dramatic increase in the price of the drug, which he said occurred as Connecticut and other states were seeking to make it more available to first responders.

“In the face of a public health crisis and at a crucial time in our battle to save lives that may be lost to the scourge of opioid abuse and addiction, these price increases will undoubtedly make our efforts to save lives much more difficult,” Jepsen wrote, adding that he worried the combination of the state’s budget problems and the “steep price increase” of the drug could hurt first responders’ efforts to use naloxone, which is commonly known by the brand name Narcan (although that brand is made by another company).

According to the agreement, Amphastar says its pricing is based on “legitimate and lawful business factors.” The one-year agreement calls for the company to provide $6 per-dose rebates; the dollar value of the rebates would rise if the wholesale cost of the drug increases.

The price of naloxone currently ranges from approximately $33 to $60 per dose, according to the attorney general’s office, which said the company has pledged not to raise the wholesale acquisition cost per dose for one year.

Amphastar President Jason Shandell did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment.

Separately, the state Department of Public Health will receive a donation of 500 doses of EVZIO – naloxone delivered through an auto-injector, which experts say can be easy to use but is far costlier than other forms – from the drug company Kaléo, Jepsen’s office and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office announced. The department will distribute the drug to the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, the Department of Correction, and community naloxone distribution programs.