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Newsom: State will slash insulin costs, manufacture Narcan generic

SACRAMENTO — California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Saturday that the state will cut insulin costs by 90% and that it will start manufacturing naloxone, a nasal spray used to reverse opioid overdoses.

The lower insulin cost results from a collaboration between CalRx, a California Department of Health Care Services program and the non-profit drug manufacturer Civica Rx, according to a news release from the governor’s office. A 10-milliliter vial of insulin will be available for no more than $30, pending approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the release said.

Though insulin was discovered more than a century ago and costs little to make, brand-name insulin is often sold for roughly $300 per vial. The high cost has forced many people with diabetes to ration or skip drug doses, which help the body manage blood sugar.

Civica Rx is a non-profit generic drugmaker that focuses on manufacturing drugs that are in short supply or may experience price spikes. The organization is backed by hospitals, insurers and philanthropies.

“People should not be forced to go into debt to get life-saving prescriptions,” said Newsom in the release. “Through CalRx, Californians will have access to some of the most inexpensive insulin available, helping them save thousands each year.”

Insulin has become a poster child for the soaring cost of many prescription drugs. Newsom’s announcement follows several insulin manufacturers that have announced their own caps on the price of insulin, like Sanofi, Eli Lilly, and Novo Nordisk.

In addition to the new insulin contract, Newsom also announced that California would seek to manufacture its own naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan. The drug can reverse the effects of opioids like fentanyl and heroin and help restore a person’s normal breathing.

The decision is part of the Golden State’s “Master Plan for Tackling the Fentanyl and Opioid Crisis,” according to a news release from Newsom’s office.

The plan “is a multi-pronged approach,” which includes a “crackdown” on transnational criminal organizations trafficking drugs through the California National Guard, while also supporting several opioid awareness programs and increasing the availability of fentanyl test strips and naloxone.

Saturday’s “announcement expands on Governor Newsom’s efforts already underway to get overdose medication to all middle and high schools across the state,” said the statement. Several California school districts are already stocking up on the drug following multiple overdoses among high school students.

California is currently searching for a California-based naloxone manufacturing facility, according to the release.

Source: CBS San Francisco

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