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Caroline Hroncich was associate editor for Pharmaceutical Technology, Pharmaceutical Technology Europe, and BioPharm International from 2015 to 2017.
Senator Chuck Grassley sent a letter to the Kaléo CEO questioning the drugs high listing price.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, is looking for answers regarding the listing price of Kaléo Pharmaceuticals’ Auvi-Q (epinephrine injection). In a March 8, 2017 letter addressed to Spencer Williamson, president and CEO of Kaléo, Sen. Grassley questioned the company’s $4500 listing price for the anaphylaxis treatment.
“The Auvi-Q is an epinephrine injector, just like Mylan’s EpiPen, but it is priced at $4500 for a two-pack whereas the EpiPen is priced at $600 with a $300 authorized generic,” Sen. Grassley wrote. “Reports also indicate that consumers without insurance will be able to pay $360 for a two-pack. Your pricing of Auvi-Q appears to draw parallels with concern about EpiPen’s pricing structure.”
While it is likely that patients may never have to pay the $4500 asking price, Sen. Grassley noted that the pricing structure “may simply shift the burden and cost to another entity within the health care system.” Several insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers including Cigna and Express Scripts have already said they will not pay for Auvi-Q, a report in The Street noted.
Kaléo released pricing information for Auvi-Q in late January 2017 before the drug was commercially available on Feb. 14, 2017. In a press statement, Kaléo said the cash price of the drug is $360 for those without insurance. The company also said it will offer the drug “free-of-charge” to those without government or commercial insurance and a household income of less than $100,000.
Grassley’s letter to Kaléo is reminiscent of one he wrote in August 2016 to Mylan CEO Heather Bresch regarding the $600 price tag on the company’s EpiPen autoinjector. In response to pushback regarding the more than 400% price increase, Mylan released a generic version of EpiPen priced at $300 for a two pack. Kaléo said that it would be reintroducing Auvi-Q to the US market amid the Mylan controversy, positioning Auvi-Q as a direct competitor to EpiPen. However, it now appears the company is facing similar challenges related to their pricing scheme.