New York Times - Paths to Stopping Painkiller Overdoses


Paths to Stopping Painkiller Overdoses

APRIL 24, 2014

To the Editor:

Evzio, the naloxone auto-injector device newly approved by the Food and Drug Administration for reversal of an opioid overdose, is a missed opportunity. Despite extremely limited public funding, community-based health organizations have distributed naloxone, an inexpensive, nontoxic medication not under patent protection, since the late 1990s to people likely to witness an overdose.

These programs have been praised by federal agencies and medical societies for producing steep declines in overdose mortality in locations where they have been brought to scale.

What community advocates have decidedly not been asking for is an expensive, prescription-based naloxone device. Rather, we need the National Institutes of Health and the F.D.A. to incentivize very low-cost, over-the-counter naloxone, something that is well within reach given available technology and the production cost of the medication.

Evzio, which is likely to cost hundreds of dollars per dose if priced similarly to epinephrine auto-injectors, looks like a handout to the pharmaceutical industry that will have limited benefit for programs now reaching those most at risk of overdose.

Brooklyn, April 16, 2014

The writer is policy director of Vocal-NY, an advocacy group.

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