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Opioid dependency therapy price hiked 600% since 2014, Senate investigators find

Published on 20/11/18 at 12:22pm

Senate investigators have found that Virginia-based drugmaker Kaleo hiked the price of its opioid dependency therapy Evzio (naloxone) by as much as 600%,exploiting patients in need at a time when the US is grappling with the ongoing opioid epidemic, it has emerged.

The investigators alleged that Kaleo subsidised patients who received Evzio at no cost, instead charged private and public insurers to pay ever-expanding list prices. Beginning at $575 for one auto-injector, the drug’s price increased sixfold between 2014 and 2017 to its current price tag of $4,100, costing taxpayers $142 million over the period.

“Kaléo’s more than 600% price increase of EVZIO not only exploits a country in the middle of an opioid crisis, but also American taxpayers who fund government-run health care programmes designed to be a safety net for our country’s elderly and most vulnerable,” the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations said.

A low cost alternative, Narcan, retails for $125 and includes two doses, the committee also noted.

Kaleo defended its actions not by denying them, but by asserting that Evzio has saved over 5,500 lives. The company’s CEO, Spencer Williamson, argued in an interview for 60 Minutes that Kaleo was willing to drop the inflated price as long as the treatment can reach patients:

“We want to reach out to all middlemen, all insurance companies to say, ‘We will lower this price to less than the original $575 if you will make sure that when a physician decides a patient is at risk, they can get it and they can afford it,” he said.

Matt Fellows

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