Thursday, March 10, 2011

Premature ejection costs Medicaid big time after Big Pharma gets involved

Guambat's second grandchild was ejected yesterday on time, if only a few days earlier than the St Paddy's Day ETA. He is healthy and whole.

Some mothers, though, have very serious problems keeping baby in until safe to eject. The serious medical problem was not a serious financial problem until a Big Pharma player got official approval for a preemie prescription. Before, the cost of medication was $20/shot. Now it is $1,500/shot. And the shot doesn't go to the bottom of the baby, it goes to the bottom line of Big Pharma, and the top line of Medicaid and other insurance costs.

Price of drug to prevent preemies jumps from $20 to $1,500 after FDA approval
Since 2003, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has recommended that doctors offer the progesterone shots to high-risk women. But because there has not been a commercial product available, women have obtained the drug from so-called compounding pharmacies, which make it to order. The pharmacies have typically charged about $10 to $20 per shot for the drug, which is given weekly.

Last month, however, the FDA approved a commercial form of the drug, called Makena, manufactured by K-V Pharmaceutical Co. of St. Louis. The company said Wednesday that the drug will be available for shipping March 14 and that it will cost $1,500 per dose.

Meanwhile, women are unlikely to be able to continue to get the drug at compounding pharmacies. K-V sent letters to the pharmacies warning them of potential FDA action if they keep distributing the drug.

The burden for many will fall on insurance companies, which may have to raise rates. The increase will also affect already strapped Medicaid programs.

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