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Opioid treatment maker says it intends to give Sen. Harris requested info

Opioid treatment maker says it intends to give Sen. Harris requested info
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The maker of an opioid addiction treatment says it intends to comply with a request for information from Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarris presses young people to vote early in Iowa trip We need economic progress for more Americans Booker bill would create federally funded savings account for every child MORE (D-Calif.), but first needed to clarify with the senator what information the company should provide.

“We intend to comply but we need to talk to Sen Harris’s staff to ensure we understand what they are asking for,” the pharmaceutical company Alkermes said in a statement to The Hill.

On Monday, Harris sent a letter to Alkermes seeking information after recent news reports alleging the pharmaceutical company aggressively lobbied to boost the sale of Vivitrol, a monthly shot used to treat opioid addiction. It differs from other Food and Drug Administration-approved treatments in that it blocks a person from being able to feel any effect from heroin or prescription painkillers.

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Harris asked the company to turn over financial transactions, internal presentations and talking points, activities of Vivitrol sales representatives and more.

“According to [news] reports, Alkermes has targeted much of its promotion for Vivitrol at law enforcement officials and lawmakers, efforts which have included the assignment of sales representatives to judges overseeing drug courts and free shots to inmates leaving jails and prisons,” Harris wrote in a letter Monday to Alkermes’s CEO and chairman, Richard Pops.

Pops sent a letter back to Harris, writing that “We intend to cooperate with your request and look forward to providing you and your staff with information about Vivitrol.”

Harris’s letter — and quotes from a press release announcing the letter — “reflect a misperception of Vivitrol and Alkermes that we wish to address,” according to Pops.

He wrote that Vivitrol has been “studied extensively” and that Alkermes educates stakeholders about the medication “because they are critical members of the treatment ecosystem, many of whom are seeking information on Vivitrol and evolving practices in the treatment of opioid dependence.”

He added later: “Unfortunately, unlike in other areas of medicine, without advocacy efforts, access to medicines and treatment can be challenging for patients.”

Some addiction experts said in news reports that the company was unfairly pointing to Vivitrol as the best option for those with an addiction, but that different medications are meant for different patients.