Senate committee takes Pfizer, Mylan and others to task over naloxone price increases

Congress

The Senate Special Committee on Aging isn’t stopping with its push to hold drugmakers accountable for their hefty price increases. Now, it wants 5 pharmas to explain the rising cost of naloxone, a med that’s used to reverse the effects of opioids.

U.S. senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO)--the committee’s chairwoman and ranking member--have reached out to Pfizer ($PFE), Mylan ($MYL), Amphastar ($AMPH), Adapt Pharma and Kaleo, asking them to account for their pricing moves on the med, the cost of which has been heading north alongside opioid abuse and overdose rates.

“As we work to address a complex public health crisis, it is important that naloxone, a potentially lifesaving tool, be accessible,” they wrote.

Drugmakers have benefitted from the surge of opioid-related deaths in the U.S.; last year, Bloomberg reported that the drug’s price had risen tenfold in recent years, with state and local governments shelling out to make the med more widely available.

And it isn’t the first time lawmakers have taken note. Amphastar, in particular, came under fire last year for jacking up the price of its injectable version to $41 per dose in January 2015 from $19 per dose in June 2014. Price hikes like those are getting in the way of distribution of the med, vocal pricing critics Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) have said.

Amphastar, for its part, told Bloomberg recently that it offers 9 states rebates on its moneymaker, while rival Adapt says it hasn’t raised prices since its nasal-spray version, Narcan, won FDA approval late last year. Politico has reported that Kaleo, on the other hand, in two years raised prices on its autoinjecting version to $3,750 per two-dose package from $575.

The Senate Special Committee on Aging has had quite a few questions for price-hiking pharmas over the last year; in April, the committee grilled Valeant's then-CEO J. Michael Pearson for at least 9 hours in advance of a public hearing on price increases.

- read the release 
- get more from Bloomberg

Special Report: 10 big brands keep pumping out big bucks, with a little help from price hikes

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