Naloxone Price Spiked 600% During Opioid Crisis By Drug Maker

By Kelly Burch 11/21/18

One drug manufacturer reportedly increased the price of its naloxone drug Evzio from $575 per dose to $4,100 per dose.

businessman capitalizing on the opioid crisis by spiking price of naloxone

Naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug, has been heralded as a lifesaving intervention credited with helping stem the death toll of the opioid epidemic. However, one drug manufacturer reportedly saw the demand for the drug as a lucrative opportunity, raising its price 600% over the past four years. 

According to a report commissioned by Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Tom Carper (D-DE), drug manufacturer Kaléo “exploited the opioid crisis” by increasing the price of its naloxone drug Evzio from $575 per dose to $4,100 per dose. 

Naloxone can save people’s lives during opioid overdoses by reversing the effects of opioids. Sometimes, in the case of powerful synthetic opioids like fentanyl, multiple doses need to be administered. 

According to the report, Kaléo intentionally increased the price of Evzio, in addition to manipulating how the drug was processed by insurance companies to take advantage of a money-making opportunity.

“In conjunction with the price increase, Kaléo launched its new business plan,” the report reads. “The Evzio Commercial Update Executive Summary, pictured here, dated April 2016, noted ‘2016 is critical to long-term success.’ With the increased price and new business model, Kaléo sought to ‘[c]apitalize on the opportunity’ of ‘opioid overdose at epidemic levels—a well-established public health crisis.’”

The report concluded that Kaléo’s aggressive pricing cost taxpayers $142 million through payments made through Medicare and Medicaid, according to a press release from Portman’s office. 

“Naloxone is a critically important overdose reversal drug that our first responders have used to save tens of thousands of lives,” Portman said. “The fact that one company dramatically raised the price of its naloxone drug and cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in increased drug costs, all during a national opioid crisis no less, is simply outrageous. The Subcommittee will continue its efforts to protect taxpayers from drug manufacturers that are exploiting loopholes in the Medicare and Medicaid system in order to profit from a national opioid crisis.”

Carper agreed, saying, “We know that naloxone can save lives. We need to take the necessary steps to ensure that drugs like this are affordable and accessible to those in need, especially during a public health emergency of this magnitude.”

In response to the report, Kaléo issued a statement pointing out that it has donated thousands of doses of Evzio, and claimed that it has never turned a profit from the drug. 

“Patients, not profits, have driven our actions,” the company said.

Read more about the report’s findings and how Kaléo manipulated pricing here.  

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.