Washington, D.C.—Today, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Dr. Rahul Gupta released the following statement regarding the White House meeting with U.S. drug manufacturers who currently have FDA-approved overdose reversal medication products to discuss ways to increase access and affordability to save more lives.
“Overdose reversal medications save lives, and no one should lack access because of affordability or availability,” said Dr. Gupta. “President Biden has set a clear directive: increase access and affordability of these life-saving medications. We are looking at every option to do so – and manufacturers have a critical role to play in this effort. At a time when we are losing more than 100,000 Americans a year to drug overdose and poisoning, we are asking all manufacturers who currently have FDA-approved overdose reversal medications on the market to take urgent action and help end the nation’s overdose crisis. The stakes could not be higher, and working together to solve this problem has never been more important.”
In addition to Dr. Gupta, senior Biden-Harris Administration officials participating included White House Domestic Policy Council Advisor Neera Tanden, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Rachel Levine, and U.S. Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Dr. Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon. During the meeting, Dr. Gupta called on manufacturers to take robust actions in support of the Biden-Harris Administration’s guiding principles:
- Overdose reversal medications are essential and lifesaving.
- No one who needs overdose reversal medications should lack access because of costs or availability.
- At-risk communities should be saturated with overdose reversal medications to reduce fatality rates.
- Overdose reversal medications must be readily available in particular to people at high risk for overdose—including those who use illicit drugs, those prescribed opioid medications, and those re-entering society after incarceration.
- Organizations serving high-risk individuals should not need to ration the distribution of overdose reversal medications.
- The public and private sectors must do more to raise awareness of the importance of overdose reversal medications to save lives in an increasingly harmful illicit drug environment.
- Public health agencies need timely, actionable data on how overdose reversal medications are distributed to harm reduction organizations, community health centers, government entities, or pharmacies, and where there are gaps in access.
Dr. Gupta asked the manufacturers to report back on progress made over the next six months.
Expanding access to overdose reversal medications is a key focus of President Biden’s National Drug Control Strategy and supports his Unity Agenda call to action to beat the overdose epidemic. Over the past two years, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken historic action to increase access to this life-saving tool, including:
- Approving the first nonprescription, “over-the-counter” (OTC) naloxone nasal spray (Narcan);
- Launching a campaign to educate young people on the dangers of fentanyl and the life-saving effects of naloxone with the Ad Council;
- Supporting states through enhanced technical assistance, policy academies, and convenings to ensure existing State Opioid Response funds are used to saturate hard-hit communities with naloxone;
- Delivering funds directly to local public health departments so they can purchase naloxone; and
- Calling for an additional $100 million for harm reduction services like naloxone in the President’s FY24 budget request.
To read about President Biden’s FY24 Drug Control Budget Request, click HERE.
To read President Biden’s National Drug Control Strategy, click HERE.