Society For Maternal-fetal Medicine Strongly Opposes Skyrocketing Increase In Cost Of Drug Proven To Prevent Preterm Labor In High-risk Pregnancies Essay

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WASHINGTON, D.C., March 21, 2011 – The Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) announced today strong opposition to KV Pharmaceutical’s recent pricing of its drug “Makena.” SMFM represents more than 2,000 physicians who have specialized training in maternal-fetal medicine and work with high-risk pregnancies where drugs such as Makena are often prescribed.
The drug, designed to prevent preterm pregnancies is being sold at $1,500 per dose. Makena, which has been produced as compound 17-hydroxyprogesterone by compounding pharmacies for
several years, has typically cost $10 to $20 per dose. “The research for this drug was funded by taxpayer dollars,” stated George Saade, M.D. president of SMFM. Tax dollars funded the initial clinical trial in 2003 under the auspices of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at the National Institutes of Health. Additional trials were funded by NICHD through its multicenter network of medical institutions over several years. “The studies found that pregnant women who had previously delivered a preterm baby, if treated with weekly injections of hydroxyprogesterone caproate, had fewer preterm babies, and the babies had fewer complications of prematurity,” added Saade. The drug was also found to be effective in both African American and NonAfrican American women. An economic analysis authored by Dr. Balit of Case Western Reserve University showed that weekly injections of compounds similar to Makena, given to at risk women, would dramatically reduce the incidence of premature births—and more over it
could save the health care system at least $2 billion per year. “When you consider that the ideal treatment for these at-risk women is administered during
weeks 16-36 of pregnancy, under KV Pharmaceuticals dramatic increase the total cost for treatment per pregnancy could soar as high as $30,000,” Saade further explained. “This financial
barrier could discourage and lockout at-risk women, especially low income women, from receiving this life-saving injection.”
SMFM is actively engaged in efforts to maintain affordable access to the drug and is supporting Congressional efforts to investigate KV Pharmaceutical’s decision to increase the price of an
existing and proven drug by 14,900%. A letter has also been sent to KV Pharmaceutical urging reevaluation of its pricing structure.

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