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New York State Launches Naloxone Co-pay Assistance Program

As overdose deaths increase, state health department reduces financial barriers to overdose reversal drug

August 7th, 2017

For immediate release

Contact:  Dr. Sharon Stancliff, Medical Director, Harm Reduction Coalition 
(212) 377-9127 stancliff@harmreduction.org

Harm Reduction Coalition applauds the New York State Health Department’s leadership in improving access to the overdose reversal drug naloxone. As overdose deaths continue to rise across New York State, the state health department has announced that it will subsidize the out-of-pocket costs of naloxone obtained through pharmacies. Beginning on August 9, 2017, New York State will cover up to $40 of the cost of co-payments for naloxone at pharmacies with a physician standing order through a new overdose response initiative, the Naloxone Co-payment Assistance Program (N-CAP).

Harm Reduction Coalition’s Medical Director, Dr. Sharon Stancliff, has issued standing orders at 700 pharmacies across New York State. These standing orders allow customers to obtain naloxone from any participating pharmacy without an individual prescription. In New York, the majority of private insurance plans, as well as all Medicaid Managed Care Plans, cover naloxone; however, co-pay requirements may deter some beneficiaries from obtaining this life-saving drug. N-CAP removes this financial barrier, facilitating greater access to naloxone.

Harm Reduction Coalition has collaborated with New York State agencies since 2006 by providing free naloxone distribution and trainings at over 250 of the 400 registered Opioid Overdose Prevention Programs (i.e., syringe exchange programs, drug treatment programs, and corrections). All Opioid Overdose Prevention Programs will continue to have free access to naloxone for their participants. N-CAP will now provide even greater access to this life saving drug for the majority of New York State community members and the real first overdose responders—people who use drugs and their loved ones. “This is a groundbreaking new initiative in responding to the opioid overdose crisis we are currently facing,” says Dr. Stancliff.

For those who are most at risk for opioid overdose, N-CAP can provide easier, more affordable access to naloxone through pharmacies. For example:

  • An inmate who receives naloxone upon release from prison will be informed that, no matter what part of the state he/she is released, a naloxone refill can be obtained at a participating pharmacy.
  • A syringe exchange participant can rapidly replenish their naloxone at a participating pharmacy before they’re able to return to the syringe exchange.
  • A parent who has recently learned or suspects that their child is using heroin can go to a participating pharmacy and receive naloxone.

“We commend Governor Cuomo New York State and the AIDS Institute for their leadership and support of innovative mechanisms to increase access to naloxone. This program may save countless lives and should serve as a model for other states around the country,” says Monique Tula, Executive Director of Harm Reduction Coalition.

Harm Reduction Coalition fully supports N-CAP. Pharmacies have a critical role in preventing deaths from opioid overdoses. Harm Reduction Coalition has played an active role promoting outreach to pharmacies by increasing their education on various drug user health initiatives such as the Expanded Syringe Access Program. We will continue to promote this outreach to ensure that pharmacies will participate in this new program and that as many individuals as possible can easily access naloxone. Harm Reduction Coalition encourages other states to consider adopting this pioneering co-pay assistance program to facilitate broader access to naloxone.

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