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USA. The Price of Saving a Life: Naloxone’s Cost Barrier in the US

When I walk into my local pharmacy to pick up a naloxone kit, I don’t need to present a prescription. I don’t even need to state my reason for needing naloxone (I’m an opioid-dependent pain patient and I frequently interview people who use illicit opioids). The pharmacist asks whether I prefer the nasal spray or the injectable version, then takes me through a five-minute orientation, explaining how to use it to save someone else’s life. Then I leave with my kit.

No money changes hands. I owe nothing. My choice of injectable versus nasal spray is driven by my own comfort, not by their respective costs. 

I live in Toronto. But in the United States, where the crisis of opioid-involved overdose deaths is raging (as it is in Canada) beyond anything we’ve seen before, naloxone access is limited—not just by stigma and outdated, restrictive laws, but also by its rising cost. (Filter, USA,