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ATLANTA – The price of preventing preterm labor is about to go through the roof. A drug for high-risk pregnant women has cost about $10 to $20 per injection. Next week, the price shoots up to $1,500 a dose, meaning the total cost during a pregnancy could be as much as $30,000. T
hat's because the drug, a form of progesterone given as a weekly shot, has been made cheaply for years, mixed in special pharmacies that custom-compound treatments that are not federally approved. But recently, KV Pharmaceutical of suburban St.Louis won government approval to exclusively sell the drug, known as Makena (Mah-KEE'-Nah). T
he March of Dimes and many obstetricians supported that because it means quality will be more consistent and it will be easier to get. None of them anticipated the dramatic price hike, though — especially since most of the cost for development and research was shouldered by others in the past.
"That's a huge increase for something that can't be costing them that much to make. For crying out loud, this is about making money," said Dr. Roger Snow, deputy medical director for Massachusetts' Medicaid program.
"I've never seen anything as outrageous as this," said Dr. Arnold Cohen, an obstetrician at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia.
"I'm breathless," said Dr. Joanne Armstrong, the head of women's health for Aetna, the Hartford-based national health insurer. Doctors say the price hike may deter low-income women from getting the drug, leading to more premature births. And it will certainly be a huge financial burden for health insurance companies and government programs that have been paying for it.
But recently, KV Pharmaceutical of suburban St.Louis won government approval to exclusively sell the drug, known as Makena (Mah-KEE'-Nah). T
oversized and irregular tablets of several different types of drugs, and also received consumer complaints about the oversized and irregularly shaped tablets.
quality will be more consistent
“Prior to FDA approval of Makena, women who could benefit from therapy may have faced barriers to access due to the absence of a commercially-available, FDA-approved product,” said Greg Divis, Chief Executive Officer, K-V Pharmaceutical Company and President, Ther-Rx Corporation. “We established this comprehensive patient assistance program as part of our commitment to ensure that all eligible women have access to FDA-approved Makena.”
# Insured patients with annual household incomes of up to $100,000 who apply for and are eligible for copay assistance will have a copay of $20 or less per injection for Makena.
# Uninsured patients with annual household incomes of up to $60,000 who apply for and are eligible for patient assistance will receive Makena at no cost. Uninsured patients with annual household incomes between $60,000 and $100,000 will be able to acquire Makena at a cost that is comparable to the average copay assigned by commercial insurance plans.