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Naloxone Shortage: What’s Happening and What YOU Need to Know

Naloxone Shortage: What’s Happening and What YOU Need to Know

By TINA MONJE Despite spiking overdose deaths, the nation's grassroots harm reduction organizations were notified this spring that Pfizer, their primary supplier of affordable, single-dose injectable naloxone (i.e. Narcan), would temporarily halt production. Pfizer has declined to provide information with major news sources, except that this halt has nothing to do with COVID-19 vaccines, and that production will resume in February. SHRS Linkage to Care Coordinator Marissa Bonnie implementing a community naloxone station in South Minneapolis. Photo by Emily Shippee Of the many naloxone producers, Pfizer is the only one who sells the product at an affordable rate. In 2012, the company entered into an agreement with a nation-wide buyers club consisting of community harm reduction organizations in an effort to get the opioid overdose reversal drug into the hands of those most likely to respond to overdose - people who use drugs (PWUD). Minneapolis-based Southside Harm Reduction Services (SHRS) is one of the many buyers club members who rely on Pfizer's accessibility. Of the syringe services programs (SSPs) in Minnesota, SHRS purchases and distributes the largest quantity. SHRS Founder and Executive Director Jack Martin reports that, between June 2020 and 2021 alone, they distributed at least 80,000 doses to PWUD either directly, or through other SSPs, organizations, and individuals. While naloxone is theoretically abundant, a single dose from other producers can run about $20 each, an infeasible price for PWUD, and for the underfunded or underground entities who serve them. "There's enough naloxone in the world," says Martin." We don't need to be in a situation where we're having to deny people naloxone." Martin suggests that other pharmaceutical companies either cannot or simply will not offer it at competitive prices. For now, SHRS is relying on donations from other generous organizations. This avoidable crisis comes during a time when PWUD need [...]

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