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Senator asks Kaleo to explain $4,500 pricetag for overdose, allergy devices

Sen. Amy Klobuchar
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images
Sen. Amy Klobuchar

Senator Amy Klobuchar wants drugmaker Kaleo to explain the $4,500 price tags on its auto-injector devices for opioid overdose and food allergies.

"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 in a letter to Kaleo CEO Spencer Williamson.

Evzio dispenses naloxone, which can reverse the effects of opioid overdose, while Auvi-Q provides a dose of epinephrine, which is used to treat allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis.

The Minnesota senator also highlighted the price of the Auvi-Q, set to return to market Feb. 14 after being withdrawn for potential dosing problems at the end of 2015. The Auvi-Q's return follows outcry over the price of the EpiPen, for the same indication.

"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," Klobuchar told Williamson. "We must make the market work for consumers."

Kaleo said last month it would bring the Auvi-Q back to market after it was dropped by partner Sanofi following the dosage issues. The pricing scheme, announced at the time, was mind-boggling: a list price of $4,500 for two injectors, but a guaranteed cash price of $360 for those not using insurance and assurances of financial assistance for those whose insurance wouldn't cover the product.

CEO Williamson said at the time that no competing device, branded or generic, "will cost a commercially insured patient less out of pocket than Auvi-Q."

Drugs for both indications have seen prices rise over the last decade, leading to problems with access.