First responders say life-saving drugs are becoming less available as the need increases, along with the cost.
“We saw a vile of epinephrine that’s 30 milliliters – it’s something that we call a multidose vile, we can give a lot of doses out of it – that went from about $40 a vile to $200 a vile,” said Nathan Harig, the assistant chief of administration at Cumberland Goodwill EMS.
Epinephrine injectors, or EpiPens, are used to fight allergic reactions and cardiac arrest. The medicine costs five times as much as naloxone, or Narcan, the drug used to revive someone from an opioid overdose.
“We’ve seen naloxone go from $14 a dose to $40 a dose,” Harig said.
Harig says a nationwide shortage of epinephrine could be driving up the cost, while grants and funding for the opioid epidemic are keeping the price of naloxone affordable. State laws are also improving access to the drug.
“Typically, you use to need that prescription for naloxone, but under the standing order that is in the state of Pennsylvania, it can be accessed without that prescription by just going up to a pharmacy,” Harig said.
People still need a prescription for epinephrine.
Harig says the state and country need to change the way drugs are accessed and paid for.