A new report that aired Nov. 18 on CBS News’ “60 Minutes” highlighted the findings of a new investigative report released this evening by Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Tom Carper, D-Delaware, into the cost of naloxone — the prescription drug used to revive individuals who overdose on opioids.
The new PSI report details how drug manufacturer kaléo exploited the opioid crisis by increasing the price of its naloxone drug EVZIO by more than 600 percent by 2016 — from the initial price of $575 per unit to $3,750 and then to $4,100 11 months later — launching a new distribution model planning to “capitalize on the opportunity” of “opioid overdose at epidemic levels.” The company’s sales force focused on ensuring doctors’ offices signed necessary paperwork indicating that EVZIO was medically necessary, ensuring the drug would be covered by government programs like Medicare and Medicaid. The plan worked, resulting in increased costs to taxpayers, to date, totaling more than $142 million in just the last four years, despite the fact that less costly versions of naloxone exist.
“Naloxone is a critically important overdose reversal drug that our first responders have used to save tens of thousands of lives,” said Portman. “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. The subcommittee will continue its efforts to protect taxpayers from drug manufacturers that are exploiting loopholes in the Medicare and Medicaid system in order to profit from a national opioid crisis.”
“Our country is grappling with one of the most lethal public health crisis in our history. The opioid crisis has afflicted communities across our country indiscriminately — wealthy and poor areas, urban and rural areas, on the coasts and in the heartland. Last year, first responders in New Castle County — the largest county in Delaware — were dispatched to respond to a drug overdose every 80 minutes. Too many families in my home state and across our country have lost loved ones to fatal overdoses that could have been prevented. The fact that, in the midst of this crisis, some would take advantage of loopholes in our system to profit off of this heartbreaking epidemic is absolutely unacceptable and shameful,” said Carper. “We know that naloxone can save lives. We need to take the necessary steps to ensure that drugs like this are affordable and accessible to those in need, especially during a public health emergency of this magnitude. Sen. Portman and I will continue working together to root out systemic problems contributing to this crisis, find solutions at the federal level and hold any bad actors accountable.”