As opioid addiction continues its grip on the lives of millions of Americans, the demand for a drug that can save those lives has grown significantly -- along with its price.
Kaleo, a drug company based in Richmond, Virginia, makes an injector device to deliver naloxone, the drug made to reverse opioid overdoses. The company has raised the price of its injector twin pack from $690 in 2014 to $4,500 in 2016.
The cost of generic naloxone has also doubled to nearly $150 for a 10 milliliter vial, and a 2 milliliter vial has doubled from about $20 in 2009 to about $40 in 2016, according to a study published in December 2016.
First responders in the D.C. area said the rise in cost has led to shortages at times.
"We are in crisis. We meet monthly to find creative ways to fill these gaps," said Brian Frankel, the EMS commander for the Prince George's County Fire Department.
"Where we used to pay about 20 dollars a dose, we're now paying up into the 50 dollar range," said Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Alan Butsch.
Frankel said to keep up with the need for naloxone, the Prince George's County Fire Department has had to make cuts to some administrative programs and programs for training.
"It is a very very significant public health concern," he said.
Drug overdose deaths have increased by 33 percent in the past five years across the country, according to data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. More than 52,000 died from drug overdoses in 2015.