Baltimore City Health Commissioner Leana Wen, MD, is at the forefront of the city’s fight to reverse opioid overdose deaths. Her citywide standing order to increase access to Naloxone, the drug that halts an opioid overdose, has gained national attention. However, a recent increase in the price of the drug has forced the city to ration its supply.
Although Naloxone has been on the market for decades, recent demand for the drug has resulted in a price hike. The cost of the generic version of the drug has more than doubled, according to Wen. Subsequently, many public health departments, including Baltimore’s, are having trouble keeping up. Although once general, city distribution efforts have become more targeted in recent months. In the wake of what is being referred to as a national crisis, Dr. Wen sees the price jump fueling this reduction in services as “unconscionable.”
According to Dr. Wen, more funding from state and federal agencies would help meet the demand for the drug. Additionally, she suggests that the federal government negotiate bulk pricing with Naloxone distributors to bring down the cost.
Although Naloxone is essential for overdose intervention, it is only one tactic Baltimore city is employing to combat opioid misuse. Access to comprehensive and multifaceted treatment, and educational efforts around prevention, are also parts of Wen’s efforts.
Hospital footage courtesy of: UMMC Midtown