As mentioned in the previous post, reactions from people outside of Kaléo have been in-depth and plentiful. In fact, the price hike issue has drawn enough attention that U.S. Officials have noticed. Two Democratic Senators, Claire McCaskill and Amy Klobucher, have sent letters to Kaléo asking for a good explanation of the hike on behalf of Congress, with McCaskill’s letter ending with signatures from 30 other members of the Senate.
McCaskill said in her letter:
“At a time when Congress has worked to expand access to naloxone products and to assist state and local communities to equip first responders with this life-saving drug, this startling price hike is very concerning,”
Her concern, and the concerns of the 30 other Senators that signed her letter, are centered more around the cost of Evzio, the opioid overdose treatment, but still had complaints toward Evzio’s price tag.
The concerns over Evzio’s price comes at a time when pharmaceutical companies are facing intense scrutiny over “price-gouging”, and as lawmakers struggle with the epidemic of opioid abuse.
It is estimated that just over 90 people each day experience a opiod overdose, which, according to experts on the issue, blame can be attributed to the lack of affordability of prescription painkillers like Evzio and other Kaléo products.
Shefali Luthra of Kaiser Health News tries to explain the price hike to NPR’s Scott Simon in a radio interview, giving a different perspective than the popular “corporate greed”.
“Kaleo donates a decent number of these devices to first responder-type groups, police departments, public health and the anti-opiate-overdose community-based organizations. They also have a no-copay program, so if you have private insurance, you can get a coupon, and you won’t see any actual cost when you’re getting the device.”
Luthra continues to say that analysts say that this process is not sufficient. Customers might have no co-pay but it is more than likely that they will see their premiums go up for the medicine, to offset the cost that their insurance company will be paying for providing the drug. You can listen to the entirety of the interview with Luthra here.
David Lazarus of the Orlando Sentinel is very unhappy with this issue of high drug prices from Kaléo. He believes that this is a case of a dishonest pharmaceutical company trying to get a huge profit margin by tricking the consumer. In particular, Lazarus takes offense to Spencer Williamson, the CEO of Kaléo saying that the sticker price of Evzio and Auvi-Q is not true to everyone, because of various discounts that are contracted with “the supply chain that makes up our healthcare system”.
“In other words, even though the price tag for his company’s easy-to-use, lifesaving device is ridiculous and indefensible, there’s no need to worry because of backroom deals by assorted players in the healthcare food chain make that price tag meaningless. And that, in a nutshell, illustrates the lunacy of the U.S. healthcare system.”
Nicholson Price, a Law Professor at the University of Michigan, says that this is just a repeat of what happened with Mylan and the epi-pen. However, he believes that right now certain institutional buyers are able to afford the Evzio and Auvi-Q because of public funding meant to combat opioid uses, but acknowledges that taxpayers will still pay for the price of the drug regardless, and that the cost of to maintain access in public funding will be felt very soon. Price notes that the fact that policy makers have not found a solution to the problem of keeping drug pricing in line with value is the root problem itself.
“Epi-Pen happened, and everyone was like, ‘Wow, this is terrible, we shouldn’t allow this to happen, and we haven’t done anything about that, and it’s not clear what the solution is. Now, shocker, it’s happening again.”