Tuesday, January 31, 2017 by Vicki Batts
It is no secret that corruption is an industry-wide problem when it comes to pharmaceuticals. But now, it seems that corruption has taken an even more sinister twist. As the number of Americans overdosing on Big Pharma’s golden ticket — the opioid painkiller — continues to increase, it seems that one pharma company has taken it upon themselves to increase the cost of the antidote by more than six-fold.
In other words, the industry is raising the cost of a drug that is used to treat a problem that the industry itself created. How cunning.
Big Pharma is known for drastically raising the price of much-needed drugs. Martin Shkreli notoriously increased the price of valuable AIDS medication by an astonishing 5,000 percent. Mylan raised the price of the EpiPen to over $600; a staggering increase for drug with relatively cheap ingredients. Now a Virgina-based company, Kaleo, is raising the price of an injector device that is used to deliver a life-saving drug as the opioid epidemic reaches its peak.
The device, called Evzio, is used to administer naloxone — the antidote used to treat opioid overdoses. It’s been estimated that over the course of 2015 alone, more than 33,000 people died from opioid overdoses. Deaths continued to skyrocket in 2016, as well.
In 2014, a twin-pack of Evzio was priced at an expensive $690. Now, that price has reached an astronomical $4,500 for the very same duo. (RELATED: See more stories of rigged prices and dishonest practices at RIGGED.news)
Ironically, the creators of Evzio — Eric and Evan Edwards — claim that their initial aspirations were to become a competitor of the EpiPen. Now, their company is following in the footsteps of the EpiPen’s current patent-holder, Mylan, by drastically raising the price of their product by a huge amount. The brothers have even said that they were inspired to create an EpiPen product due to their own food allergies.
You’d think that because of their own experiences, they’d be less inclined to so obviously price-gouge their products for profit, but apparently the temptation to cash in on other people’s suffering is too great to pass up.
Evzio is a talking device — which its creators say justifies the price. And naloxone is not a particularly cheap drug; 10mL of it costs approximately $150. But is the $4,500 price tag really justifiable when just over two years ago, the same product cost less than $700?
Experts say that there is no explanation for the jaw-dropping increase in price.
Leo Beletsky, an associate professor of law and health sciences at Northeastern University in Boston stated, “There’s absolutely nothing that warrants them charging what they’re charging.”
Evzio is one of the few options for naloxone that is user-friendly and can be dispensed easily by the average person. Another option is a nasal spray. It meets a need: it provides quick and accessible care to someone who has overdosed.
Unfortunately, at its current pricing, it is also unaffordable. Many physicians are prescribing it anyways so their patients who are taking opioids have an extra layer of protection: if they overdose, naloxone can be administered quickly and easily by a family member and there’s no need to wait for emergency services.
Kaleo has donated some 180,000 of the devices to 250 different organizations across 34 states. When you consider that opioids are attributed to upwards of 60 deaths a day, however, that number starts to pale in comparison. And if the opioid epidemic continues to worsen, its likely that their donation supply program will be unable to to keep up with demands. Last year, all of their free devices were gone by July; leaving all those organizations up the creek without a paddle for five months, after they’d come to depend on the product.
Follow more news about the medicine industry at Medicine.news.