FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a test tube in front of displayed Emergent logo in this illustration taken, May 21, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
(Reuters) – Contract drugmaker Emergent BioSolutions Inc said on Thursday it is aiming to price the over-the-counter (OTC) version of its opioid overdose reversal drug Narcan at around $50 per carton.
The OTC version will become available at U.S. stores and online retailers later this summer, while the currently available prescription nasal spray carries a wholesale price tag of $125 per carton.
Emergent’s statement comes nearly a month after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allowed Narcan to be sold over-the-counter, allowing for easier availability of the life-saving medication.
The approval paved the way for expanded access to the drug in areas that have concentrated overdose problems and a few pharmacies, but uncertainty remains around Narcan’s final price and whether insurers will offer coverage.
Emergent has not disclosed the final price for OTC Narcan yet.
“A goal for the out-of-pocket retailer price is to be consistent with our public interest pricing for one carton of two 4 milligram doses,” the company said in its statement, adding that current price for public interest groups averages less than $50.
Customers will pay the out-of-pocket retailer price, which is set by individual retailers for Narcan once it becomes available in the United States.
Prescription Narcan is currently covered under commercial- and government-backed insurance plans, which allows people to get the drug for free from the pharmacy or for a nominal co-pay.
Government-backed Medicare health insurance plans do not cover OTC products, but have previously made exceptions such as in the case of COVID-19 tests.
Naloxone-based Narcan rapidly reverses or blocks the effects of opioids, restoring normal respiration, especially when given within minutes of the first signs of an overdose.