Overdose drug cost up 600%

NH congressional delegation demands answers on increase

NASHUA – Questions are being raised about the 600 percent cost spike for one of the devices that delivers naloxone, the drug that can stop opioid-related overdoses.

“I’m very concerned about this astronomical price increase, and will work with my colleagues to ensure that naloxone and life-saving drugs are available to address the addiction crisis,” said U S. Rep. Annie Kuster, the Democrat representing New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District.

The price of the Evzio naloxone injector has been raised by Kaleo Inc. from $690 for a pack of two to $4,500. This jump in prices prompted Kuster, along with U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, the Democrat representing the First Congressional District, and other congressional representatives to send a letter to the company demanding an explanation.

“This drug company is trying to profiteer off of New Hampshire communities in crisis, and we demand answers,” Shea-Porter said.

The Evzio device is an auto injector that delivers 2 milligrams of the drug to people suffering from an overdose, similar to the EpiPen that delivers epinephrine for people suffering a severe allergic reaction.

Nashua’s first responders don’t use the Evzio device, although they have seen the cost of other naloxone delivery systems go up.

“Our form has doubled in cost in the last three years,” said Chris Stawasz, with Nashua’s ambulance service, AMR.

Nashua first responders typically administer naloxone in a capsule form that is directly injected. That cost was less than $20 for a 2 milligram dose three years ago, and is now $45.

Stawasz said the Evzio device is more expensive than the capsule or the nasal spray form of naloxone because the auto injector is designed to need little training for the person administering it.

“Like the EpiPen, it’s supposed to be bulletproof,” he said.

Kuster said the cost of this one form of naloxone going up takes away one of the tools for first responders and caregivers. Naloxone has saved countless lives as New Hampshire is dealing with the opioid addiction crisis, she said.

“What we can’t afford is for those on the frontlines of this crisis to have a life-saving tool taken from them,” Kuster said.

Damien Fisher can be reached at 594-1245, dfisher@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_DF.