PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — In a news conference Tuesday, Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin announced three ways his office is working to fight opioid abuse in Rhode Island: a pitch to Congress for more funding, a rebate agreement on the overdose antidote drug often used, and comparing notes and ideas with other attorneys general of the region late next month.
1. Kilmartin negotiates rebates on overdose-reversing drug
With the increase in drug overdoses, Naloxone, the drug that reverses an opioid overdose, has more than doubled in cost in the past year. Kilmartin negotiated a $4 rebate with drug maker Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, Inc., for every Naloxone syringe kit purchased in Rhode Island by state agencies, municipal governments, law enforcement and emergency agencies and nonprofits.
Each quarter, each government entity will file for a rebate at the Attorney General’s website, documenting how many syringe kits of Naloxone they bought. Kilmartin’s office will then submit the state’s rebate applications in bulk to Amphastar, and hand out rebates once they come in from the company.
“For Rhode Island to successfully continue its overdose prevention work, the cost of Naloxone must be low and predictable. This agreement helps secure the affordability and availability of Naloxone, and, as such, will save lives,” said Attorney General Kilmartin.
Kilmartin is also going to ask for a budget line item in the 2017 fiscal year budget for a trust fund just to purchase Naloxone in bulk.
2,500 doses of Naloxone were distributed in Rhode Island between January 2014 and May 2015. This year, every public school was also required to a dose of Naloxone on school presmises.
2. Kilmartin asks for passage of Congressional act
Kilmartin and attorneys general from 37 states and the District of Columbia have sent a letter to the Committee on the Judiciary for the United States Senate and House of Representatives urging them to pass the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015 (Senate Bill 524, House Bill 953). Rhode Island junior Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is a sponsor of the Senate bill.
“Rhode Island is not along in facing the opioid crisis – it is a regional and national crisis. Rather than try to solve the problem state by state, it is more effective and can have a greater impact if we pool resources and collaborate on solutions,” Kilmartin said.
The Act calls for several points, including more prevention and education, as well as expanding Naloxone availability — and expanding sites where prescription drugs can be discarded.
Kilmartin’s office cited stats from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which said drug overdoses now surpass automobile accidents as the leading cause of injury-related death for Americans between the ages of 25 and 64. More than 100 Americans die as a result of overdose in this country every day, according to the CDC — more than half of them caused by prescription drugs or heroin.
Kilmartin said he’d been spurred to act by local advocate Jim Gillen. “There was no one more knowledgeable than Jim on how to effectively address addiction and recovery, and I am honored and humbled to serve as an advocate in his memory to push for the passage of this critically important Act,” said Attorney General Kilmartin. “I also commend Senator Whitehouse for his leadership on this issue and his unwavering support to provide states with the resources they need to battle this epidemic.”
3. Kilmartin taking part in drug abuse panel at AGs meeting
Kilmartin is chair of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), Eastern Region, and said the attorneys general will be focusing on the opioid crisis at their meeting October 28-29, in New York City. Kilmartin will also serve on a drug abuse panel at the meeting.
One of the speakers at the meeting will be Dr. Traci Green, Brown University Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Emergency Medicine; she’ll discuss where the opioid abuse crisis stands now, as well as trends that have emerged and opportunities for intervention.