The head of a pharmaceutical company, who partnered with the Clinton Foundation, has increased the price of an auto-injector used to treat opioid overdoses by 680 percent over the course of three years.
Spencer Williamson, the president and chief executive officer of the Richmond, Virginia-based Kaleo Pharmaceuticals, is under fire after the price of a two-pack of Evzio, a device that treats life-threatening opioid overdoses, skyrocketed from $690 in 2014 to $4,500 today.
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Thirty-one Democratic senators are now demanding answers on the price hike.
"We are deeply concerned about reports that Kaleo dramatically increased the cost of its naloxone injector device, Evzio, an FDA approved medication used for the emergency treatment of an opioid overdoes – from $690 for a two pack in 2014 to $4,500 today," the letter sent from the senators to Williamson said. "This drug is now in the hands of first responders and families struggling with substance use disorder across the country. It is particularly needed in rural areas where access to life-saving emergency services can be limited. Such a steep rise in the cost of this drug threatens to price-out families and communities that depend on naloxone to save lives."
The senators ask Williamson to detail the pricing structure of Evzio and to provide documentation as to why the company changed its pricing structure. In addition, the lawmakers seek the total amount that Evzio has received in reimbursements over the last 12 months, among other demands.
Despite now coming under fire from the Democratic senators, Williamson has worked alongside the party's failed presidential candidate to help make the drug more affordable.
In January 2015, Williamson announced a partnership with the Clinton Foundation at the fourth annual Health Matters Activation Summit.
"Spencer Williamson, CEO of Kaleo, announced an agreement with the Kaleo pharmaceutical company to make EVZIO® (naloxone HCl injection) Auto-injector, an emergency treatment for opioid overdose, available at a bulk discount to colleges and universities, public safety organizations and community organizers," read the Clinton Foundation press release. "This agreement is a part of CHMI’s efforts to ensure that there is a predictable and affordable supply of Naloxone, a life-saving opioid suppressant that can reverse opioid caused overdoses."
After the Washington Free Beacon reached out to Kaleo for comment, Mary Coyle, the senior vice president of the New York-based communications firm Ruder Finn, passed on a statement from Williamson.
"We received the letter from the senators and are in communication with them to ensure all questions are addressed," Williamson said. "Our first priority remains ensuring that patients can access EVZIO. In fact, with the launch of Kaleo's enhanced patient access program, more Americans are able to obtain this life-saving product for $0 out-of-pocket than any time in history."
"As the senators noted, EVZIO was designed for use by those without medical training, as 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 with naloxone," Williamson continued. "Through quick administration of EVZIO by caregivers, we can help save lives while saving significant costs to the healthcare system by avoiding long term in-patient care. No naloxone product, branded or even generic, is less expensive for commercially insured patients, or patients without insurance and incomes below $100,000 a year, than EVZIO."