31 U.S. Senators have addressed a letter to Kaléo Pharmaceuticals, asking questions about the excessive rise in the price of the company’s Evzio naloxone injectors. Evzio is used to treat opioid overdose emergencies for those struggling with substance use disorder.
Evzio was designed to be employed by those without medical training because most life-threatening opioid emergencies occur in the home and have to be responded by friends or family members, said Spencer Williamson, CEO of the company in a statement to the Consumerist.
Unlike other intravenous generic naloxone, Evzio is an auto-injector that almost anyone can administer easily. The product is particularly needed in rural areas where access to life-saving emergency services can be limited, admitted senators in the letter.
The cost of an Evzio twin pack has increased from $690 in 2014 to $4500, that is more than 600 percent. The lack of apparent reason stirred up speculation, which drove a group of Senators from across the country to write a letter requesting answers from the company.
Some lawmakers believe that Kaléo responded to the growing demand for naloxone devices by boosting up the price. Over 30,000 U.S. citizens who suffer from addiction die each year of an opioid overdose in what the Consumerist called an epidemic.
In the letter, the Senators asked for a more detailed explanation for the high list price. Senators wanted to know if there had been any changes in the cost of production, if the number of Evzio injectors that are set aside for programs that offer them for little to no money, how the company informs consumers of their eligibility, and information about the revenue generated last year from federal government purchases. Including those earned from third parties that use federal funds indirectly.
According to Williamson, the pharmaceutical has received the correspondence and is in communication with the senators to make sure all their inquiries are sorted out.
“Our first priority remains ensuring that patients can access EVZIO. In fact, with the launch of Kaléo’s enhanced patient access program, more Americans are able to obtain this life-saving product for $0 out-of-pocket than any time in history,” Williamson responded to the allegations.
Kaléo has tried to calm the waters by explaining that $4500 is only the list price and does not reflect how much consumers are paying for it. They went on to explain how the new program supports patients and their loved ones. Around 200 million Americans with commercial insurance and a prescription can get the injection for zero cost. For people who do not have government or commercial insurance, and have a household income of less than $100,000, the cost is also relieved. For those paying in cash, the price is actually much lower than the listed price at $360.
Senators are still concerned about the impact the steep rise might have on those who don’t qualify for the patient access program and for state and local entities who expect to purchase large quantities of the product, as detailed by the Consumerist.
A similar debate aroused last year with emergency allergy treatment EpiPen
Williamson acknowledged the Evzio was not created with the bulk purchase market in mind, formed primarily of first responder agencies, health department and harm reduction organizations. Instead, they intended to directly reach communities in need through the Kaléo Cares Product Donation program which provides Evzio free of charge. To present date, 2,800 lives have been saved because they have had access to nearly 200,000 doses of the injector donated by the company, revealed Williamson to the Consumerist.
Williamson added that there is no naloxone product in the market cheaper than Evzio. Even more, it helps save costs in the healthcare system each time a caregiver administers an on-site injector, avoiding in-patient care in the long run.