In the world of addiction recovery, there are many different tools that we have available to us to help people who are struggling with addiction. However, our options are sometimes mitigated by the trends of the market around us. The rising prices of many lifesaving drugs on the marketplace have been commonplace for years, and have recently become a hot topic in the national conversation about healthcare. In particular, Naloxone is one drug in the addiction recovery world that has been particularly susceptible to this issue...
What is Naloxone?
Naloxone is a drug that is used as an emergency medicine for individuals who are experiencing an opioid overdose. The drug is able to accomplish this by blocking the chemical reactions that opioids induce on the brain. Because of this, Naloxone is able to stabilize a person suffering from a heroin overdose, or other types of opioids, and has saved countless lives since the 1970’s, when it was created.
There is only one auto-injector device that dispenses Naloxone on the market: Evzio (a brand made by Kaleo). Due to patents, no other company is able to market the same drug. This sort of monopolization on a lifesaving drug has caused prices to skyrocket, dramatically. In 2014, Evzio was listed for $575 on the market (this was a price that was already drastically higher than similar products in countries other than the U.S.). Today, the same two-pack of Evzio would cost a patient $4,500, nearly seven times as much as it cost in 2014. Despite this price increase, the actual service that is provided by the product hasn’t actually changed.
How rising health costs affect addiction
The situation we are witnessing with Evzio has shown how dangerous it is for lifesaving drugs to be dramatically swayed in price by market forces, especially when those market forces are protected by patent laws, preventing competition. The issue is that medical spending, especially when it is a life or death situation, are completely inelastic. A person can’t look at a $4,500 price tag and decide if they are willing to spend that much when they are at death’s door.
In terms of the world of addiction recovery, it also doesn’t do our patients any favors to be financially devastated at what is probably one of their lowest moments. Financial insecurity only serves to alienate people in need from people who have the potential to help them, and further pushes addicts to the fringe, so that the only care they receive is when they are potentially overdosing and need another $4,500 drug to save their life.