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Maker of opioid overdose antidote challenged on cost

Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings and another U.S. lawmaker sent a letter to the drug company that produces an antidote to heroin overdose that has been jumping in price as more police and health departments use it.

The letter went to Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, the only maker of naloxone, requesting information on gross revenues from the drug, price paid for the drug and factors that led to the price increases.

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Naloxone is the latest drug catching the attention of Cummings, ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Sen. Bernard Sanders, ranking member of the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security, who began an investigation last year of drug price increases that in some cases have led to shortages.

Baltimore and other cities have turned to naloxone to help stop opioid overdose deaths, and Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore's health commissioner, praised the lawmakers' attention to the problem. Wen said costs to the city for a 10-dose pack doubled since May 2014 to $414 from $193.

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Wen said the drug is a safe and effective way to save lives. She said "the rapidly rising cost of naloxone is a public health crisis."

Amphastar Pharmaceuticals could not be reached for comment.

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