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Cummings Applauds Maryland AG for Moving Aggressively to Combat Drug Overcharging

Jul 23, 2015
Press Release

Cummings Applauds Maryland AG for Moving Aggressively to Combat Drug Overcharging

 

Cummings Asked State Officials to Urge Drug Company to Reduce Prices

 

Washington, D.C. (July 23, 2015)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, applauded Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh for taking steps to combat the rising cost of naloxone, a life-saving drug used to treat overdoses of heroin and other opioids.

“I commend Attorney General Frosh for heeding my call to negotiate an agreement with Amphastar to reduce its prices for this critical drug, and I am glad his office is moving so aggressively to combat the epidemic of heroin addiction,” said Cummings.  “It is clear that Attorney General Frosh’s strong actions will have the direct effect of saving lives in the State of Maryland.  In addition, I call on Amphastar to act now to lower its prices in every state—not just in those that force extended negotiations with the company.”

On Tuesday, Frosh sent a letter asking Jack Y. Zhang, the Chief Executive Officer of Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, to adopt an agreement to make its drug more affordable.  Frosh wrote, “I understand the economic imperatives that enter into any pricing decision, but for any responsible corporate citizen, the health of Maryland communities and the lives of hundreds of patients must be paramount.”

Earlier this month, Cummings sent a letter urging Frosh, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, and Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford to take aggressive action to negotiate an agreement with Amphastar to ensure that Maryland taxpayers are not being overcharged for the drug.  He wrote:

“I believe the State of Maryland is being overcharged for a critical drug called naloxone that is used by first responders and medical personnel to reverse the life-threatening effects of heroin and other opioid overdoses, and I urge you to make sure that the company charging these prices is not allowed to continue taking advantage of the citizens of Maryland. Governors and Attorneys General in other states, including New York, have taken aggressive action to reduce the amounts paid to this company, Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, and I encourage you to do the same.”

In January, after months of negotiation, the Attorney General of New York announced an agreement with Amphastar to provide rebates of $6 per dose of naloxone paid for directly, or reimbursed by, public agencies within the state.  The agreement also requires Amphastar to increase these rebates to match—dollar-for-dollar—any future price increases.  In March, the Attorney General of Ohio announced a similar agreement with the company.

These actions followed reports that “police and public health officials from New York to San Francisco are facing sticker shock: Prices for a popular form of the medication, naloxone, are spiking, in some cases by 50 percent or more.”  Some have suggested that these price spikes coincide with an increasing number of large city police departments deciding to supply their officers with the drug.

Cummings is working to prevent states nationwide from being overcharged for the critical drug.  On July 13, he and Senator Bernie Sanders sent a letter urging the National Governors Association, the National Association of Lieutenant Governors, and the National Association of Attorneys General to encourage their members to take action to combat overcharging for naloxone.

Since last fall, Cummings and Sanders have been investigating recent price increases for drugs used to treat everything from common medical conditions to life-threatening illnesses, and to identify measures to help reduce costs for patients, healthcare providers, and hospitals across the country.

Click here to read Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh’s letter to Amphastar.

Click here to read Ranking Member Cummings’ letter to Maryland officials. 

114th Congress