NEW YORK—The Soros Economic Development Fund (SEDF), the impact investment arm of the Open Society Foundations, is supporting an effort to make it easier and more affordable for communities across the United States to access naloxone, the overdose-reversing medicine that reduces deaths in America’s ongoing overdose crisis.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, opioids like heroin and fentanyl were the largest contributing factor in more than 100,000 overdose deaths in the United States last year, a worsening of the overdose crisis that the federal government declared a national health care emergency in 2017.
Over the course of this crisis, the distribution of naloxone—which is now available without medical prescription—has been credited with lowering overdose deaths across the country.
In response to the crisis, SEDF is providing a $1 million low-interest loan to Remedy Alliance/For The People, a not-for-profit organization that is the leading supplier of naloxone. The loan will significantly increase Remedy Alliance’s distribution of this medicine nationwide.
Georgia Levenson Keohane, SEDF’s chief executive officer, said: “This investment is part of Open Society’s ongoing response to the overdose crisis that continues to ravage communities across America. Remedy Alliance is a remarkable organization on the front lines of this crisis—consistently saving lives. We are proud to be able to support its work.”
Remedy Alliance began in 2012 as an informal buyers’ club when advocates in Chicago worked together to secure low-cost access to affordable generic injectable naloxone for people who use drugs. Today, it uses sales to state, county, and public health institutions to subsidize free distribution of the medicine to local, under-funded harm reduction groups that work directly with people at risk of overdose. Remedy Alliance currently provides approximately 30 percent of all emergency injectable overdose treatments nationally—all with comparatively minimal investment and staff—and has distributed more than 2 million doses to 196 programs across the U.S.
In looking back on the organization’s history and growth, Maya Doe-Simkins, Remedy Alliance co-director said that it had been “born out of sorrow and desperation.”
“Open Society was a steadfast supporter during that inception period,” she added. “We are delighted that Open Society will continue to be our partner for this period when we are disrupting business as usual and returning power to the programs saving the most lives.”
Remedy Alliance will use SEDF’s loan to launch disbursement of the new nasal naloxone product RiVive™ and will expand its distribution channels to reach more people affected by the overdose crisis directly through harm reduction programs, who are working directly with people who use drugs. The loan will allow Remedy Alliance to expand its offerings to intranasal naloxone developed by the nonprofit pharmaceutical company Harm Reduction Therapeutics. Remedy Alliance will manage Harm Reduction Therapeutics‘ robust donation program as well as selling RiVive™ at a lower cost than other nasal naloxone products.
Sarah Evans, division director of drug policy at Open Society, said “Remedy Alliance is a key ally, working directly with groups that save lives every day because they work closely and respectfully with people who use drugs. Yet too often, these groups are treated as outsiders by the medical establishment. This commitment from SEDF will save lives and should contribute to the slow shift in attitudes that we are now seeing in America’s approach to people who use drugs and vital harm reduction strategies.”