An Evzio injector which issues audio instructions while in use

CBS NEWS

Senate reports on pharma company that bumped naloxone product to $4,000 a dose

November 19, 2018 - 7:35 am
Categories: 

(CBS News) — Monday the U.S. Senate will release a report on Kaleo, a pharmaceutical company that raised the price of its opioid overdose antidote Evzio, from $575 to $4,000. The drug it uses, naloxone, costs about 5 cents a dose.

The report details how Kaleo made sure that doctors signed forms for Medicare patients, resulting in "more than $142 million in charges to taxpayers in just the last four years."

"60 Minutes" correspondent Lesley Stahl spoke to more than a dozen former Kaleo employees.

"The doctors, most of them were disgusted," said one former Kaleo sales rep.

"I felt slimy," said another former sales rep. "I no longer felt like I'm helping people. Now I feel like I'm taking advantage of people. We're talknig about naloxone. Kaleo didn't invent, didn't discover naloxone. Naloxone has been around 50 years. Imagine if you took aspirin — it's been around forever — and you packaged it in a fancy box and put a bow on it."

Stahl also spoke with the company's CEO, Spencer Williamson, who is now offering to lower the price.

"We raised the price to improve access to this product," Williamson said. "The numbers don't lie. Less than 5,000 prescriptions were filled in the first 12 months. In the second 12 months, over 65,000 prescriptions were filled."

"60 Minutes" reports the increased access is the result of a program that gets insurance companies to pay as much as possible, then Kaleo pays the patient's copay. If your insurance won't cover Evzio, Kaleo will give it to you for free. Because of the higher price and low production costs, Kaleo still comes out ahead.