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Alkermes Looks To Capitalize On Opioid Epidemic Through Aggressive Lobbying

Alkermes Looks To Capitalize On Opioid Epidemic Through Aggressive Lobbying

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's quest to address the growing opioid crisis is hurting many pharmaceutical companies, including Endo International plc - Ordinary Shares (NASDAQ: ENDP), presenting an opportunity for companies like Alkermes Plc (NASDAQ: ALKS), which makes treatments for opioid addictions.

Is The Government Finally Paying Real Attention?

Tom Price, secretary of the health and human services, said last month that products like Alkermes' Vivitrol could be front-and-center in the treatment of opioid addictions, the New York Times reported. Price's comments were made after visiting Alkermes' facilities in Ohio — a sign that the government may be taking the crisis more seriously after the company spent millions of dollars through lobbying efforts.

Although President Donald Trump's administration approved a $1 billion investment in new addiction prevention and treatment funds, Alkermes isn't necessarily best positioned to benefit, the publication suggested. Specifically, there hasn't been a single study, which compares Vivitrol to less expensive competitors and some of the published studies found that participants returned to opioid use while taking Vivitrol.

A study of 250 patients in Russia, which was vital in securing the FDA's approval of Vivitrol for opioid addiction rather than just alcoholism, not only found that nearly half of the patients failed to stay abstinent but some who received a placebo remained in treatment for longer periods.

This is a problem for Alkermes, which may be pitching Vivitrol to investors as being a miracle drug, the New York Times said. Nevertheless, the company did see sales of Vivitrol raise 33 percent in the first quarter of 2017 as 450 programs across 39 states approve of Vivitrol's use.

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