Drug prices in North America’s largest state have soared since the death last month of former North Dakota President Joseph DiGenovo, prompting questions about the state’s recovery.
The average price of a single-strength drug rose $1,800 in January to $19,832, according to data compiled by the nonprofit advocacy group DrugPrice.org, a nonprofit trade publication.
The average price for a six-pack of OxyContin rose $3,800 to $20,842.
The spike has been accompanied by an increase in other prescription drug costs.
The cost of generic versions of generic drugs rose $5,400 to $2,200, according the DrugPrice data.
The price increases came despite the fact that DiGenovas death was caused by an overdose of the painkiller, Xanax, according Toobin, who has researched and written about prescription drug prices for more than 30 years.
Digenovas family declined to comment for this article.
The increase in drug costs has led to widespread anxiety and speculation that Digenova died of complications from his condition, said Michael Siegel, executive director of DrugPrice, a group that monitors and publishes prescription drug price information.
DiGenova, 84, was the second sitting president of North Dakota to die in office in the past decade.
He was first elected in 1978.
His wife, Barbara, died in 2011.
The state has one of the highest rates of opioid overdoses in the nation.
Digenova left office in February.
His health care law has been criticized by some Democrats, including Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Carolina, who called for his resignation last month.
In a statement released by the DiGenoviks, they said they were “deeply saddened” by his passing.
They expressed grief and gratitude for the outpouring of support from all over the country and beyond.
They said the death is an “unacceptable loss for all North Dakotans, and we ask for privacy and compassion as we mourn and grieve.”
Siegel said DiGenovicas death is one of a handful of deaths that have prompted lawmakers to push back on efforts to limit prescription drug increases.
He said the new measures have been controversial and have been met with fierce opposition.
Siegel called the opioid epidemic “the most serious public health crisis since World War II,” noting that about 3.5 million Americans died from opioid use in 2016.
DiGiovetti, the spokesman for the North Dakota State House Health Committee, declined to respond to questions about how the state has managed to maintain such a low price.
He declined to say whether DiGenovichs death was a result of a new policy.
But he said the state is making efforts to prevent people from abusing prescription drugs.
“The price of prescription drugs is one way we do that,” he said.