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Richmond pharmaceutical company to release EpiPen alternative at 700% market cost

Posted by: brad – Feb 13, 2017

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Conversations around drug pricing have been bubbling over for years, and now we've got our own little local angle on an industry who directly profits depending on how sick you are.

Richmond-based Kaléo Pharma claims to offer "solutions for life," but those solutions come at a price - their two products, alternatives to life saving emergency drug treatments have both increased in price by massive magnitudes: Evzio for painkiller overdoses and Auvi-Q for allegoric reactions.

Both products have come under scrutiny ahead of one's launch set for tomorrow, 2/14/17.

More from The Guardian:

Pharmaceutical company Kaléo – already under fire for raising the price of an overdose antidote – now plans to put an alternative to the EpiPen on the market for more than seven times the cost of the leading $608 drug.

Kaléo’s epinephrine injector, used to stop severe allergic reactions, will go on sale for $4,500 for a pack of two beginning on 14 February. The auto-injector’s innovative audio instructions walk caregivers through administering less than $5 worth of epinephrine.

In Kaléo’s defense, that is the product they're selling - a new version of the famed EpiPen that talks you through the process of administering so those who aren't familiar could handle the maneuver in a pinch.

But such cases of price gauging, even for the EpiPen alone, have been making headlines and corporations look bad since Martin Shkreli blew up the price of Daraprim, and Antimalarial drug, by about 5000% in late 2015.

In an interview with Richmond Magazine a few years back, Kaléo founders and brothers Eric and Evan Edwards spoke highly of their mission to use their drugs to combat the county's rising heroine overdose rates saying "It is time for all of us to collectively face addiction," and their product "could save lives by facilitating earlier use of the drug in emergency situations.”

But, according to the Guardian, that's when it was selling for $690. Now its 5.5 times that much.

The company has defended the price hike saying they offer discounts which lower out-of-pokcet costs "while insurance companies foot the bill." But, as the Guardian points out, that forces insurance companies to spread the cost out to the rest of their plan holders.

Jennifer Luddy, a spokeswoman for Express Scripts, told the Guardian it was excluding Kaléo's products from their coverage plans for this reason. She called the prices "egregious" and "another example of how some drug makers try to get around formulary management tools that help save payers and patients money.”

EpiPens expire after one year and are a must have for sufferers of dangerous allergic reactions. Cheaper alternatives are still available, but Auvi-Q comes to shelves tomorrow.

Top image via evizo.com

Words by BK

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