White House calling for additional $350 million in supplemental funding request to help expand access to overdose reversal medications
Washington, D.C. – Last week, as naloxone became available for over-the-counter purchase for the first time ever, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Dr. Rahul Gupta joined U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra and senior HHS leadership for a live naloxone demonstration event to educate HHS staff and the public on this life-saving medication.
You can watch the full event here.
Naloxone is a life-saving medication that rapidly reverses the effects of opioid overdose. The FDA approved naloxone for non-prescription, over-the-counter use in March and July of this year. Now, for the first time ever, naloxone is available for over-the-counter purchase at grocery stores and pharmacies across the country.
At the event, senior administration officials emphasized the importance of increasing awareness, reducing stigmatization, and expanding access to lifesaving overdose reversal medications. Officials also highlighted that over-the-counter purchase is only one way that individuals can get naloxone. In addition to over-the-counter products, there are also overdose reversal medications that are available through a prescription and covered by most insurance plans, including Medicaid and Medicare. Patients can ask their health care provider for a prescription for this lifesaving medication, or speak with their pharmacist about what options may be available to them. Most states have standing orders in place so people can access prescription forms of overdose reversal medications without having to get a prescription from their doctor.
The Biden-Harris Administration has invested historic amounts of funding in the State Opioid Response (SOR) grant program for states and tribes to make overdose reversal medications available to their residents at no cost. Using federal State Opioid Response grant dollars, states have purchased nearly 9 million naloxone kits and helped reverse more than 500,000 overdoses. In the most recent supplemental funding request to Congress, President Biden is calling for an additional $350 million to HHS for grants to States, Territories and Tribal Nations through the SOR program to continue expanding access to this lifesaving medication. Last year, the United States lost more than 100,000 Americans to drug overdose, so this critical funding request is essential in our efforts to fight the overdose epidemic and save lives.
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 and opioid epidemic. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to doing everything we can to ensure that naloxone is as accessible and affordable as possible. Earlier this summer, the Biden-Harris Administration convened a meeting of U.S. opioid overdose medication manufacturers at the White House. During the meeting, senior Administration officials reiterated President Biden’s clear and urgent call to increase access to these life-saving overdose reversal medications, and underscored the critical role manufacturers play in the all-of-society effort to help end the nation’s overdose crisis. The officials encouraged manufacturers to take robust actions in support of the Biden-Harris Administration’s guiding principles for overdose reversal medications, which include that no one who needs overdose reversal medications should lack access because of costs or availability; that at-risk communities should be saturated with these medications to reduce fatality rates; that organizations serving high-risk individuals should not need to ration these medications; that more must be done to raise public awareness; and that public health agencies need timely, actionable data on distribution and gaps in access. The Administration applauds insurers who are agreeing to cover the cost of over-the-counter naloxone for their members, and urge more insurers to follow suit.
Over the past two years, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken historic action to increase access to this life-saving tool, including:
- Convening U.S. drug manufacturers who have FDA-approved overdose reversal medication products to discuss ways to increase access and affordability to save more lives;
- Launching a campaign to educate young people on the dangers of fentanyl and the life-saving effects of naloxone with the Ad Council;
- Making it easier for harm reduction organizations to obtain naloxone directly from manufacturers and distributors while expanding public availability of this critical medicine.
- 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 states 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.