Following Sanders Investigation, Vermont Secures Discount on Life-Saving Drug

BURLINGTON, Vt., Dec. 23 – Following up on U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) investigation on the skyrocketing cost of generic drugs and letters the senator sent to officials urging them to seek a discount on naloxone, Vermont’s attorney general signed a deal with Amphastar Pharmaceuticals for a 20 percent rebate on the drug used by first-responders as an opiate overdose antidote. 

“The opioid abuse epidemic in our country is a public health emergency that must be addressed, and no company should jeopardize the progress being made in tackling this emergency by overcharging for a critically important drug like naloxone,” said Sanders, who serves as the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security. “It is a tragedy for my state of Vermont. It is a tragedy all over this country. The number of heroin deaths are growing very, very significantly.”

Drug overdose deaths hit a record high last year in the United States. Tragically, that included 83 Vermonters.

Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell reached an agreement last Friday with Amphastar Pharmaceuticals to address concerns with the 2014 price increase of the opioid antidote drug naloxone. Under the agreement, Vermont will receive a $6 rebate per vial.

Since last fall, Sanders and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, have been investigating the increasingly high prices being charged for naloxone and other drugs. 

In July, Sanders and Cummings sent letters to the United States Conference of Mayors, the National Association of Counties, and the Associations of National Governors, Lieutenant Governors, and Attorneys General to urge their members to follow the lead of New York and other states that are demanding affordable prices for a critical drug used by first responders nationwide.

“We encourage all of your members to consider negotiating agreements with Amphastar to make naloxone more widely available in every state,” Cummings and Sanders wrote.