Narcan costs cause money problems for rescuers

Money problems are also hitting hospitals, as the cost for the drug is skyrocketing.

DENVER - Saving lives is the business of Paramedic Chief Rob Moore. But, it's bad for business if he can't save money, too.

"One of these boxes was $1.10. If I ordered some of these today, they're maybe $46 maybe $47 a dose," Moore said.

He runs Mile High Ambulance and said the need for the medication known as Narcan has increased dramatically. Officially called Naloxone Hydrochloride, Narcan combats the effects of drug overdoses by users of heroin, morphine, or oxycodone.

"Just in the last several months, it's gotten to be a big issue," Moore said.

It's also gotten to be a big cost. Since 2005, Moore says the price of a single dose of Narcan has increased by more than 4000 percent from $1.10 for a 2-milligram dose to $46.86.

"In two weeks, it's gone up by $8.00," Moore said. 

Five pharmaceutical companies make Narcan. Pfizer, Adapt, Kaleo, Amphastar, and Mylan have said in the past that manufacturing costs and increased use have driven up prices.

"So, the demand has soared, the supply has stayed the same and the price has gone way up," Moore said.

He said the costs have caused problems for his budget.

"It sure put off the purchases of other equipment and supplies that we had planned for," Moore said.

Hospitals are feeling the pinch, too. The Denver Health Medical Center states that it used to pay $17 for a 2-milligram dose of Narcan, now it pays $31.35.

"It saves lives and that's important so we can't go without it," Moore said.

Moore said Mile High Ambulance receives a flat fee from the insurance companies to take care of patients, so for now, it will just absorb the costs of a life-saving medication that is being used more and more.

"It just makes it difficult for us to support continuing to supply this and everything else we're asked to supply -- all the equipment, the training, the vehicles, the insurance and everything else we do," Moore said. 

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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