A new government-sponsored study shows Vivitrol is the first non-narcotic drug to work just as well as narcotic Suboxone for opioid dependence treatment. Vivitrol is injected once a month and works by blocking opioid receptors in the brain, Richard Pops, the CEO of Alkermes (NASDAQ:ALKS), and maker of Vivitrol, told FOX Business’s “Mornings with Maria.”
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“Sixty thousand people are going to die and there are only three FDA-approved medicines to treat this condition. You compare that to cancer and infectious diseases where there are dozens of medicines,” Pops told Maria Baritromo in an exclusive interview.
Vivitrol was approved in 2010 by the FDA to treat opioid detoxification. The only other brands with FDA-approved drugs for opioid addiction treatment are manufactured by Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) and Reckitt Benckiser.
Opioid addiction has become an epidemic in the United States, with more than 33,000 opioid-related deaths reported in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). President Donald Trump’s opioid commission, headed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, issued a comprehensive report this month on treatment, prevention and utilization of medication to assist addiction. In Pops’ opinion, the administration is in favor of using new techniques to address the crisis.
Vivitrol is priced at $1,000 per shot, but according to the drug’s website, a co-pay savings program can cover up to $500 per month of “co-pay or deductible expenses for eligible patients.”
More than 350,000 patients have been treated with the drug already.