Kaleo expanding access in U.S. to drug to reverse opioid overdose

(Reuters) - Kaleo Inc, which came under fire last year for the high price of its device to treat opioid overdoses, on Thursday said it is expanding nonprescription access to the Evzio injector and will sell it to U.S. government agencies at a steep discount.

Evzio, which has a list price of $4,100 for a twin-pack of auto-injectors, contains the overdose-reversing drug naloxone and can be used in emergencies by people without medical training.

The privately held drugmaker, which already covers out-of-pocket costs for commercially insured patients with a prescription for Evzio, said it will now make the device available at no cost for those same insured patients without a prescription in six states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Missouri, Nevada and Ohio.

The patients will need to call a central phone number, talk to a pharmacist, and get Evzio delivered to their door. Kaleo will bill their commercial insurer.

In response to the opioid epidemic, states have enacted laws to ease access to naloxone. Most states permit dispensing through a standing order, and at least half a dozen allow some pharmacists to prescribe naloxone on their own authority, according to Kaleo.

In a statement, Kaleo said it plans to eventually expand its “Virtual Standing Order” pilot program to additional states.

Federal and state government agencies, as well as tribes who purchase directly from Kaleo, will now pay $360 for a pack of two Evzio auto-injectors.

The company last year caught the attention of lawmakers like U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill after it raised the price of a twin-pack to $4,500 from $690 in 2014.

Kaleo also said it will continue to donate Evzio to qualifying non-profits and first responders demonstrating need.

Reporting by Deena Beasley in Los Angeles; Editing by Lisa Shumaker