The US is currently suffering a serious opioid epidemic. but thankfully, back in 1971, the FDA approved a drug that could reverse a heroin or opioid overdose. However, now more than 40 years later, the makers of naloxone are cashing in on our epidemic and price-gouging the consumers who need it most.
While the cost of one package of Evzio (a name brand version) was $690 when it hit the market in 2014, it’s now $4,500. But that’s not all, researchers “who studied the rising price of naloxone for a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine, found price hikes in other formulations of the drug: An injectable by Hospira has increased in price from $62.29 in 2012 to $142.49 today, while a nasal spray version of naloxone by Amphastar now costs $39.60 — a 95 percent surge since 2014,” reports the article.
So, while you are more likely to die of a drug overdose in America, and there are drugs to help, they are quickly becoming unreachable for those who need them most.
Why do drug companies do this?
Sadly, because they can. The drug company that created Evzio, Kaleo, says their price increase is justified because the product is easy to use and life-saving. (Normally they say you can’t put a price on that kind of thing.) But, without someone to call attention to this gouging, say like what happened when EpiPen jacked their prices up, the price will continue to rise as they see fit.
From the article:
“The US drug pricing scheme is set up in a way that makes it relatively easy for companies to charge what they want — unlike countries with single-payer health systems, where governments exert much more influence over the entire health care process. In England, for example, the government has an agency that negotiates directly with pharmaceutical companies. The government sets a maximum price that it will pay for a drug, and if companies don’t agree, they simply lose out on the entire market. This puts drugmakers at a disadvantage, driving down the price of drugs.”
But we don’t do that here in the US. Rather, we take a free market approach to pharmaceuticals and let Big Pharma drug us to death- at any price they choose. Pharma works out its pricing with private insurers all over the country except for Medicare, the government health program for people over 65- also the largest purchaser of drugs- because they are barred from negotiating drug prices. (See that? The government really does belong to Big Pharma- just more proof.)
Sadly, unlike the outrage that the EpiPen price hike created, the naloxone increases have made few ripples. Perhaps that’s because of the stigma that still exists with opioid addiction? However, as our opioid problem here in the US has become an epidemic, people better start getting outraged and soon.