Sen. Eric P. Lesser announced that effective immediately, cities and towns across the Commonwealth can order naloxone, the overdose-reversal drug commonly known as Narcan, at a discounted price through a statewide bulk purchasing program.
“Narcan is an indispensable tool in combating the opioid epidemic in our Commonwealth,” Sen. Lesser said. “This bulk purchasing program will allow more of our police, firefighters, EMTs and other first responders to administer this drug, and help save lives in the process.”
“The use of naloxone has saved lives in Springfield and across Massachusetts, and is one of our state’s greatest success stories in the fight against the opioid epidemic,” said DPH Commissioner Monica Bharel. “Thanks to the legislature and Senator Lesser’s legislation to create the bulk purchasing trust fund, this effort to lower the cost of naloxone will allow Western Massachusetts municipalities, first responders, and those most likely to witness overdoses to be more prepared and equipped to save lives.”
“This discounted rate for naloxone is essential for first responders statewide who are increasingly responding to overdoses and need to administer this life-saving drug. We are pleased to announce the immediate implementation of this critical program with the Department of Public Health and thank Senator Lesser for his continued advocacy to ensure that our cities and towns are equipped to fight the opioid epidemic,” said Attorney General Maura Healey.
Healey’s office negotiated an agreement in September with Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Narcan, to pay $325,000 into the trust fund supporting the program. These funds were added to the $100,000 already allocated to the program by the Massachusetts Legislature in the 2016 state budget.
The Municipal Naloxone Bulk Purchase program allows any state agency, municipality or municipal first responder agency to purchase naloxone at the cost negotiated between the Commonwealth and the wholesaler. First responder agencies will be eligible to purchase naloxone at a deeply discounted rate of $20 per dose.
In January, Senator Lesser filed a bill that served as a blueprint for the Senate’s proposal to establish the bulk-purchasing program announced today. He also introduced a bill, passed into law through an amendment to the Senate budget, that would close the pharmacy shopping loophole by reducing the length of time pharmacies must report the prescriptions of highly addictive narcotics from 7 days to 24 hours.
Nearly 1,300 people in Massachusetts died of an unintentional opiate-related overdose in 2014, representing a nearly 60 percent increase since 2012. Opioids now kill more people in Massachusetts than car accidents and guns combined.
The number of opioid overdose-related fatalities in Western Massachusetts would be 13 to 14 times higher if not for Narcan’s role, according to Northwestern District Attorney David E. Sullivan.
More information on the bulk purchasing program, including procedures for interested cities and towns, is available at www.mass.gov/dph/naloxone.