U.S. Markets open in 5 hrs 28 mins

U.S. opioid crisis: 'A lot needs to be done' in 3 key areas

Adriana Belmonte
Associate Editor

There’s no easy answer for how to solve the opioid crisis that has cost the U.S. over $37 billion since 2000.

But Robert Kramer, the CEO of Emergent Biosolutions, a biopharmaceutical company responsible for overdose reversal drug Naloxone, laid out three areas that require renewed attention.

“I think the government has a critically important role in coming up with a comprehensive solution to the opioid crisis,” Kramer said recently on YFi AM. “It includes education. It includes awareness. It includes making products like Narcan and other forms of naloxone available to the 34 million patients who are at risk. So, a lot needs to be done in those three areas.”

A Philadelphia Police officer shows a package of the overdose reversal agent Naloxone Hydrochloride, or Narcan. (Photo: DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)

‘34 million patients in the U.S.’

A key component of presidential candidate and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren’s proposal for tackling opioid addiction is its push for increased naloxone access.

That’s also the goal behind the production of Narcan at Emergent Biosolutions, according to Kramer.

“Our focus is on making sure that the 34 million patients in the U.S. who have been designated by the CDC as being at risk of an opioid overdose are understanding how to get the product, how to use the product,” he said. “And, we make sure that it’s affordable to all of them.”

On Narcan’s website, it states that the nasal spray “has extensive public and private coverage.” Prices for it range from $129.99 to approximately $145. The generic version is even cheaper, with the lowest price being $36.

Thirty one year-old Cody is checked out by paramedics as he enters the Safe Station program at the Central Fire Station March 28, 2018 in Manchester, New Hampshire. (Photo: DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

This is in stark contrast to Kaleo, a private drug company that came under heavy scrutiny back in November 2018 for increasing the price of its overdose antidote from $575 to $4,100 — more than a 600% increase. Kaleo faced a Senate subcommittee and reportedly cost Medicare and Medicaid programs over $142 million.

And although his company does profit from their drug being used to treat overdose victims, Kramer doesn’t “see it as exploitative at all. I see it as lifesaving.”

“Our mission as a company for 20 years has been in this public health threat space looking to protect and enhance life,” Kramer said. “And we do that across a number of really complex public health threats, like anthrax and smallpox and botulism, travelers’ disease, and now the opioid crisis.”

Adriana is an associate editor for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @adrianambells.

READ MORE:

Follow Yahoo Finance on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flipboard, SmartNews, LinkedIn, YouTube, and reddit.