- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 8, 2015

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Gov. Peter Shumlin is urging the maker of an antidote used in drug overdoses to address its rising costs and give Vermont a break on the expense in the interest of saving lives.

Shumlin said Wednesday that the cost of the drug naloxone has gone from $113 per 10 doses last month to $183 as of Tuesday. Naloxone is used to reverse the effects of opioids - drugs derived from opium, including heroin.

“The company CEO has said, ‘Great, how can we make some more money on this’ and they’ve drastically raised prices,” Shumlin said.

The governor released a letter delivered Wednesday to Jack Zhang, CEO of Amphastar Pharmaceuticals Inc., that urges the company to offer Vermont something similar to the $6 per dose rebate provided in New York.

The letter asks Zhang to help Vermont “by preventing naloxone from being priced out-of-reach for our many public safety and health officials at this critical time in the nationwide fight against heroin abuse.”

Officials at Amphastar, of Rancho Cucamonga, California, did not return a call Wednesday seeking comment.

Last month, company President Jason Shandell told The Associated Press in an email that manufacturing costs for all the products the company makes, including naloxone, have increased as the costs of raw materials, energy, and labor go up.

In 2013, Vermont increased public access to naloxone, including making it available to addicts and their families as well as first responders. Since then, 1,869 Naloxone kits have been distributed in the state and have been used about 190 times to reverse overdoses. Advocates say it has no major side effects other than opioid-withdrawal symptoms and does not create a high.

New Hampshire also is increasing access to naloxone. Last month, safety officials started a training course for police officers to administer the drug. Officers who successfully complete the course will receive the new license level of “law enforcement provider.”

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