On Thursday, the New York Times Editorial Board weighed in on rising drug prices, citing the experience of Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen in trying to broaden distribution of the life-saving overdose reversal drug Naloxone.
In Baltimore, the health commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen, uses a need-based algorithm to decide which emergency rooms, needle-exchange vans, E.M.T.s and opioid outreach workers receive the city’s limited supply of naloxone — and which don’t. The drug, which reverses overdoses, has saved some 14,000 Baltimore residents since 2015. But its price has increased in recent years, by between 95 and 500 percent, depending on which version of the medication is being considered. Even with donations and discounts from drug makers, Dr. Wen says the city can’t afford all the naloxone it needs.
The editorial goes on to suggest that the federal government use existing federal law to force pharmaceutical companies to sell cheaper, generic versions of patented drugs for the sake of public safety.
Open Society Institute has partnered with the Health Department on naloxone distribution for years and honored Dr. Wen with a “Bold Thinker” award at our recent 20th Anniversary Speaker Series event.