Kaléo Pharma’s High Prices Targeted

Evzio and Auvi-Q take the hot seat

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) has pressed pharmaceutical company Kaléo for answers regarding the high prices of its medications that treat patients with opioid overdose and food allergies.

Kaléo increased the price of a two-pack of Evzio, a device containing naloxone that treats life-threatening opioid overdoses, from $690 to more than $4,500 during the last three years. It also announced that it was re-introducing Auvi-Q, an epinephrine autoinjector for food allergies, in the United States at a price of $4,500 for a two-pack. In a letter to Kaléo’s president and CEO, Spencer Williamson, Klobuchar asked the company to explain its high prices.

“Due to the severity of the opioid epidemic and Evzio’s life-saving attributes, it is critical that your products remain affordable to Americans,” Klobuchar wrote. “Second, you announced that you are reintroducing Auvi-Q, an epinephrine injector for those with food allergies, back to the United States at a price of $4,500 for a two-pack. Your price of $4,500 for a two-pack is especially disturbing, as more competition should mean lower—rather than higher—prices for epinephrine injectors. We must make the market work for consumers.”

In her letter, Klobuchar asked Williamson to answer the following questions:

  • Why did you increase the price of Evzio by 700% over the last three years?
  • How much has the cost of manufacturing Evzio changed during that period?
  • In explaining the pricing of Auvi-Q, you said “[t]he reason the list price is high is it’s the only way we can make sure patients have access and can get it for $0.” Please explain why Kaléo needs to adopt this pricing system to ensure that patients have access to Auvi-Q.
  • Other companies are pricing a two-pack of epinephrine injectors in the $100-to-$300 dollar range in addition to providing rebates. Why is Kaléo unable to follow a similar pricing strategy for your epinephrine injector?

Shortly after Kaléo announced its list price for Auvi-Q, several insurers and pharmacy benefit managers told FiercePharma that they were not paying for the autoinjector.

Cigna said it had “no plans” to add the product to its list of covered medications, while Humana said it was “not supportive” of Kaléo’s pricing strategy. Aetna placed Auvi-Q on a “restricted coverage level until a final formulary coverage is determined.”

A spokesperson for Express Scripts stated that Kaléo’s move was “another egregious pricing scheme that will attempt to gouge payers and damage our health care system.”

Sources: Senator Klobuchar; February 3, 2017; and FiercePharma; February 6, 2017.