Kaleo Inc.’s more than 600% price increase on its opioid-overdose antidote has cost the Medicare and Medicaid health program $142 million since 2014, according to a report by two U.S. senators.
Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Tom Carper of Delaware said in the report, released Monday, that Kaleo “exploited the opioid crisis” by sharply increasing the price of Evzio between 2014 and 2017. Portman, a Republican, and Carper, a Democrat, run the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs investigative subcommittee.
The senators said that Richmond, Virginia-based Kaleo encouraged doctors’ offices to sign paperwork indicating that Evzio, which administers the opioid antidote naloxone, was medically necessary, ensuring it would be covered by government-run health programs even though less-costly alternatives existed.
“Naloxone is a critically important overdose reversal drug that our first responders have used to save tens of thousands of lives,” Portman said in a statement. “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.”
Kaleo defended its pricing strategy and said it was working with insurers and other stakeholders to provide Evzio at a lower cost.
“We believe two facts are critical to the Evzio story,” the company said in a statement. “First, we have received voluntary reports from recipients of donated product that Evzio has saved more than 5,500 lives since we launched the product in 2014. Second, we have never turned an annual profit on the sale of Evzio.”