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Opioid Crisis: Is Kaleo's Massive Pricehike of Injectable Naloxene Putting Lives in Danger?

Feb 13, 2017 12:36 PM EST
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A box of the opioid antidote Naloxone, also known as Narcan, sits on display during a family addiction support group on March 23, 2016 in Groton, CT. The drug is used to revive people suffering from heroin overdose.
(Photo : John Moore/Getty Images)

Narcotics experts have called for an expanded access to naloxone, an important drug related to solve the growing number of opioid overdoses in the U.S. The massive surge in the antidote's price is a business decision that can affect the lives of other people.

What is Naloxene?

Currently, medical officers and responders in various U.S. states have been equipped with naloxene to treat opioid overdoses. However, this can be put into jeopardy if a company continues its push to raise its prices at an extremely high amount -- but how?

It all boils down to Kaleo, a Virginia-based drug company, that produces a product called Evzio, which is known for its life-saving naloxone for opioid overdose. According to CNN, the demand for the product grew as deaths from the condition increased. In 2015 alone, approximately 33,000 deaths were attributed to opioid overdose.

Unreasonable Price Hike?

As demand for a product increases, it's not new for companies to raise its price. Case in point is Martin Shkreli, who raised his AIDS treatment by 5,000 percent. Now, Kaleo wants to increase their Evzio twin-pack price from $690 in 2014 to a whopping $4,500.

The company's founders, brothers Eric and Evan Edwards, said the massive price surge is worth it as their product offers a talking device that guides the user on how to properly inject it on the victims. However, some still says that paying $4,500 is unreasonable.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), since its federal approval in 2014, Evzio has gained major traction in the market. In 2015 and 2016, it accounted for nearly 20 percent of the naloxene products sold in retail stores for patients ranging between 40 and 64 years old.

However, this is not a new trend. The cost of generic, injectable naloxone has been steadily rising. Some say the device's price surge is way out of step with production costs.

Leo Beletsky from Northeastern University in Boston told Scientific American that there is "nothing that warrants them [Kaleo] charging what they're charging."

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