Saturday, March 19, 2011

Makena Update: Action Taken, Waiting on Results

Since my last post, I've learned a few important things about the Makena and 17P debate, and there are a few things that I wanted to mention.

First, another reason this drug price is ridiculous: low-income women are the most at risk for preterm labor, and will probably be most in need of the drug. According to American Pregnancy, risk factors for preterm labor include "low income . . . little or no prenatal care . . . lack of social support," and the list goes on, including being underweight or overweight. All of those conditions speak to preterm labor targeting poorer classes, meaning that first, the target market of the drug is probably the least able to pay such ludicrous prices, and second, that much of the payment will come out of Medicaid funding. And while I support Medicaid funds being used to help pregnant women, it feels like KV Pharmaceutical is grabbing for an unfair share of that taxpayer money.

Second, two US Senators are seeking an investigation into pricing and anti-competitive conduct by KV Pharmaceutical! This is the best news yet, since so far our only course of action has been to complain, and an FTC investigation could mean required change—I'm hoping that compounding pharmacies will be allowed to compound the same 17P that has been helping women for years.

March of Dimes declared success on Facebook when Ther-Rx came out with a statement on their website. The release didn't seem to even hint at a price drop. Here's their action plan:
We are scheduling meetings with key audiences – including payors and national organizations that are committed to the advancement of obstetric care and infant health. We hope to meet with them at the earliest possible dates to discuss and address all of their concerns. We are committed to working closely with all parties to develop and implement plans that will ensure that this important, FDA-approved product will be covered by the payor community and available to all women who are prescribed Makena at an affordable cost.

Specifically the part that says, " . . . ensure that this . . . product will be covered by the payor community," makes me think that Ther-Rx is going to "address concerns" by continuing to hold fetal safety hostage, but not to make mothers pay, rather to make insurance companies and government organizations pay their exorbitant price. Of course, that money doesn't come out of nowhere. It shows up in our premiums, in our tax rates, and in less funding for other important or necessary things in the Medicaid budget. That's not what we asked for.

So again, I'm calling for KV Pharmaceutical, or Ther-Rx, or whatever brand name they want to go by today, to LOWER THE PRICE of Makena. I was getting it for $7 per shot, and 20 weekly shots are usually prescribed. Sure, some people, organizations, or companies might be able to afford up to $30,000 per pregnancy for this drug to save babies, but nobody should have to, whether we're doing it as individuals or as a community!

*On a personal note, I was on Denver's ABC 7 last night for a spot highlighting this problem. If you are a pregnant woman affected by this, contact your local news and ask them to do a story. We need local and national awareness that this is a problem, to support the investigation those senators are requesting, and to hold KV Pharmaceutical responsible for their actions.

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