High Drug Prices Collide With Efforts to Stop Overdoses

Congress has made a bipartisan commitment to curb the number of deaths from the opioid epidemic, but lawmakers may need to wade into a controversial area if they want to succeed: high drug prices.

Advocates have been clamoring for congressional action to help local agencies deal with the high price of an overdose antidote. The pleas come at a time when more Americans are becoming concerned about the prices of prescription drugs.

Naloxone is a generic drug that has been around for decades and can save people who are in the throes of a drug overdose. Local governments across the country have been pursuing programs to increase use of the drug as overdoses have soared.

About 16,000 people in 2013 died from prescription painkiller overdoses and more than 8,200 died from heroin overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But over the past several years the price has soared, causing problems for localities that want to give the drug to first responders such as police officers and emergency medical technicians.