Dramatic price hikes on life-saving medicines are leaving families scrambling for help. First, there was national outrage when the cost of an EpiPen increased six-fold. You will recall, the drug stops allergic reactions.
Now Newschannel5 has learned one of the main pharmaceutical companies that makes the overdose reversal drug Naloxone is doing the same; raising the price of that drug.
"That's unacceptable," said Bill Denihan, CEO ADAMHS Board for Cuyahoga County.
Data provided by Truven Health Analytics shows the latest wholesale cost of pharmaceutical company Kaleo's two-injection Naloxone kit. According to the numbers, the wholesale cost of the drug from Kaleo went from $750 for two injectors last year to $3,750 this year.
"It's really troubling that the pharmaceutical companies are picking this time," said Denihan.
It is news local governments do not want to hear. The ADAMHS Board of Cuyahoga County, which stands for alcohol, drug addiction, mental health services provides $100,000 a year to distribute Naloxone to folks who really need it. That money comes from Cuyahoga County's Health and Human Services levee. Luckily for ADAMHS, it distributes the nasal spray which is significantly cheaper than the injectable version. prices for that spray, however, are also on the up and up.
"The trouble part is - they've doubled the cost." said Denihan.
Last year it was $12 a dose, today it is $25 a dose. As of a few days ago, the kits now contain three doses, up from two doses, because of the Fentanyl epidemic sweeping Northeast Ohio. Fentanyl is so potent, it requires up to three doses to revive an addict. That is $75-bucks a pop coming out of ADAMHS' budget.
"It's workable at this time," said Denihan.
So far this year, 1,500 kits have been picked up, and according to ADAMHS representatives...
"We know saved at least 150 lives," said Denihan.
A 10% return on investment. Local entities say even if the price goes up, they will continue to deliver.
"You can't put a price on a life," said Denihan.
According to Truven Health analytics, the price for Nalaxone is up for other pharmaceutical companies as well.
In a statement from Kaleo's PR team, the Vice President of Media says Kaleo recently enhanced its patient access program, saying as a result most patients can obtain Nalaxone for zero dollars.
Read the full statement below:
While EVZIO has been broadly covered by many insurance companies, too many patients and their physicians continue to be frustrated by high out-of-pocket costs (co-pays), prior authorization requirements, and other bureaucratic hurdles that delay or prevent patients from obtaining EVZIO. In fact, about 2/3 of the time last year, a physician’s prescription for EVZIO was never filled. Therefore, kaléo recently enhanced our patient access program so we can ensure more patients can obtain EVZIO - an innovative and potentially life-saving product - at a low or no out-of-pocket cost. Now, all patients and their caregivers with commercial insurance and a prescription can obtain EVZIO with an out-of-pocket cost, in most cases, of $0, even if their insurance does not cover EVZIO.
According to the World Health Organization, most life-threatening opioid emergencies occur in the home and are witnessed by friends or family who may be in the best position to intervene quickly. We believe the most important cost to ensure access to EVZIO is the out-of-pocket cost to patients and have adjusted our pricing to enable this access program.
Kaléo initiated the kaléo Cares Product Donation Program in October 2014 to help qualifying public interest organizations such as first-responders, public health departments and non-profits serving patients most in need. Since inception of the program, kaléo has donated 150,000 doses of EVZIO to more than 250 organizations in 34 states free of charge, including more than 120 law enforcement and other first responder organizations. We have donated more than 2000 doses of EVZIO to organizations in Ohio. The number of auto-injectors donated to the organizations and the frequency of those donations vary. More than 1,600 lives have been reported saved with the help of EVZIO donated through the kaléo Cares Product Donation Program.
Earlier this year, due to overwhelming demand, we exhausted our charitable donation supply for 2016. Fortunately, we now have additional supply of EVZIO’s to support our donation program and continue to help qualifying public interest organizations save lives in local communities.