by: Justin Gray, Cox Washington Bureau Updated:
WASHINGTON - A drug that has become a critical life-saving tool in the nation’s opioid crisis is skyrocketing in price.
Now, lawmakers in Washington are demanding answers as to why.
First responder and drug counselors say there’s no doubt that Evzio, an injectable version of the anti-overdose drug Naloxone, has saved thousands of lives.
“We've seen it save lives and we've seen those lives get clean,” Kent Runyon of the Novus Medical Detox Center told Channel 2’s Justin Gray.
But the company that makes the drug, Kaleo, has raised the price of Evzio more than 600 percent since 2014, to $4,500 a dose.
As more first responders began carrying the anti-overdose drug, Kaleo upped the price.
“Their action is endangering people's lives at a time when we are suffering a national epidemic,” said Peter Maybarduk of consumer group Public Citizen.
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Thirty-one U.S. senators have sent a letter to the company demanding answers over the price hike.
“It's price gouging. There's no legitimate reasons,” Maybarduk told Gray.
The drug company’s CEO sent Gray a statement saying:
“To date, we have donated nearly 200,000 naloxone auto-injectors to public health departments, first responders and non-profits serving patients in need."
Runyon treats patients battling addiction. He said he’s seen people scared away from the life-saving drug by the sky-high sticker price.
“It’s of no use to anyone if it’s not available,” Runyon told Gray.
Kaleo told Gray it has a program to provide the drug for free to those without insurance.
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