Company hiked price for opioid overdose treatment 600 percent: Senate report

A drug company “exploited the opioid crisis” by hiking the price of a drug to treat opioid overdoses by more than 600 percent between 2014 and 2017, according to a new Senate report.

The report from the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations finds that the company Kaléo raised the price of its drug EVZIO from $575 in 2014 to $4,100 in 2017.

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EVZIO is an auto-injector form of the drug naloxone, which is used to treat people overdosing on opioids, an occurrence that has reached crisis levels in the United States.

The report found that the price hikes have cost the government more than $142 million over the past four years through charges to Medicare and Medicaid.

“Kaléo’s more than 600 percent 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 programs designed to be a safety net for our country’s elderly and most vulnerable,” states the Senate report, which was led by Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSenate GOP hedges on attending Trump's convention amid coronavirus uptick Koch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads Romney, Collins, Murkowski won't attend GOP convention MORE (R-Ohio) and Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperHillicon Valley: Facebook to label 'newsworthy' posts that violate policies | Unilever to pull ads from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram | FEC commissioner steps down Senate Democrats push federal agencies to combat coronavirus scams and robocalls The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Mark Takano says Congress must extend worker benefits expiring in July; WHO reports record spike in global cases MORE (D-Del.), the top lawmakers on the committee.

The report found that the company provided EVZIO to patients for free if their insurance would not cover the drug, essentially relying on charging high costs to some insurers to subsidize giving the product for free to some people.

In a statement, Kaléo noted that it had donated doses of the drug, which it said had saved more than 5,500 lives since 2014. The company also noted it has never turned a profit on EVZIO.

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

“We agree changes need to be made,” it added. “We believe all patients should have the right to innovative products at reasonable prices. We are actively working with stakeholders in the healthcare system, including insurers, policymakers and government officials, to provide EVZIO at a lower cost while ensuring patients and their loved ones have access to this life-saving drug.”