- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 4, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The manufacturer of a drug overdose antidote crediting with saving numerous addicts’ lives will provide rebates for public agencies buying the antidote over the next year, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced Wednesday.

DeWine asked for the rebates after costs of the antidote nearly doubled. California-based Amphastar Pharmaceuticals Inc. makes the drug, which has saved the lives of many people who’ve overdosed on heroin and prescription painkillers.

DeWine said the company has agreed to provide a $6 rebate for each naloxone syringe bought by a non-federal public entity in Ohio in the next 12 months.

The company has reached a similar rebate agreement with New York, while Massachusetts’ attorney general also has questioned the increase. Amphastar said it was happy to reach an agreement “to assist the state in its efforts to save lives.”

The news came as the Ohio House unanimously approved a bill Wednesday expanding the antidote’s use across the state.

The legislation is aimed at reducing the state’s record-high number of fatal overdoses from heroin and painkillers, now the leading cause of accidental death in Ohio, surpassing car crashes.

The measure allows individuals, including an addict or a family member or friend, authorized by a doctor to distribute naloxone.

The bill also allows pharmacies to distribute the drug without a prescription and relaxes how quickly someone administering the drug would have to call 911, saying it should be done “as soon as practical” instead of immediately before or after giving the antidote.

The legislation will help boost how many kits the Ross County Health Department can distribute, Kathy Wakefield, director of nursing, said Wednesday. The agency trained 15 people Tuesday on using the drug but wasn’t able to provide supplies under the current law.

“We would be able to give out a huge amount of naloxone,” she said of the current bill.

Naloxone, sometimes called by its trade name, Narcan, blocks the effects of opiates and opioids. It can quickly allow an overdose victim to breathe again and is not addictive.

DeWine’s office says 10,500 doses of naloxone were administered in 2012, according to the most recent data.

The bill sponsors are Rep. Robert Sprague, a Findlay Republican, and Rep. Jeff Rezabek, a Republican from Clayton in suburban Dayton.

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