EpiPen alternative to hit market at more than seven times the price
Kaléo’s vice-president has claimed that the high price of Evzio is required to ensure anyone with a prescription could obtain the drug.
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.
Remarkably, because of a system of coupons and discounts, Kaléo’s epinephrine injector Auvi-Q may have the lowest out-of-pocket costs for patients, a strategy some critics say may help some customers, but leads insurance companies to redistribute the cost of the drug through insurance fees to remain profitable.
“It’s a brilliant auto-injector – is it fair to say it’s worth $4,000 itself? That’s $3,000 more than your iPhone, and you can only use it once,” said Dr Joseph Ross, an associate professor of medicine at Yale University who has written about drug pricing for the New England Journal of Medicine. “It’s tricky to know what’s the right price, what’s a fair price.”
This is not the first time that Auvi-Q will be on the market. The drug was pulled in 2015 after 26 auto-injectors malfunctioned, and delivered inconsistent doses of epinephrine. In 2015, the cost of Auvi-Q was about $450, according to CNBC. The company has since said publicly that those problems have been fixed. Kaléo did not respond to multiple requests for comment from the Guardian.
Kaléo has patents on just two products – Auvi-Q and Evzio, another auto-injector which delivers the antidote naloxone to people overdosing on drugs like heroin or opiates. Both auto-injectors deliver life-saving generic drugs to patients using audio recordings to walk people through the injection process. Both are now priced at $4,500.