Friday, March 11, 2011

My Baby is More Expensive than Your Baby

Note: In an effort to be "fair and balanced", I googled extensively to find postings or articles in support of the MOD and their support of this drug. I could not find anyone arguing for them. I also could not find a public statement from the MOD in response to the pricing, although it's been stated in articles that they did not know, etc, etc. I wanted to find a press release directly from MOD, to be fair, and all I found on their site was a press release from Feb 4, 2011.

The FDA recently approved Makena, a progesterone injection used to prevent pre-term labor in high risk women. This drug has been available for a long time through compounding pharmacies at a cost of $10 - $30/shot. The drug will no longer be available in the compounded form, instead people must buy Makena.

The catch is that Makena will cost up to $1,500 per dose for this weekly injection. The cost of preventing pre-term labor could be as high as $30k per pregnancy! Read more here.

I never used the 17P shots, but had we decided to have one more child, this would be part of my pre-natal treatment, given my history of premature labor (along with the cerclage). I don't know yet if insurance companies will cover this, and if they do - what is that going to do to our already stressed health care/insurance system? If compounding pharmacies could produce this for $30/shot, why does KV Pharmaceuticals need to charge $1500??? A rep from KV Pharma says that the cost needs to be "in light of the problems and the costs of premature births". The costs of premature births is going to skyrocket when people can not afford this drug.

Further disappointing news comes in the March of Dimes support of this move. Their reasoning is that it makes it more consistent and accessible to all women. Obviously a good thing. Their response to the uproar is that they had no idea what the price point would be, nor had they any input. I believe that. But wouldn't you ask before you supported something like this? And if you were really naive enough to think the pharmaceutical company wouldn't try to make an insane profit on this, wouldn't you come out with a statement against the pricing once it was known? I don't know this information first hand, just from reading blogs, but I've read that MOD has taken money in the six figures from KV Pharmaceuticals.

And honestly, while I was pretty secure in my decision to be done having kids, there was a small crack in the door of possibility - I hadn't completely shut it. Now I feel like that door has been shut for me. So I guess maybe MOD is carrying out their mission to prevent premature births. Because this drug is making it completely cost-prohibitive for women that are high risk to even try.

I expect this out of a pharmaceutical company. As slimy as it is, it's their job to make money for their shareholders. Is it morally bankrupt to do it at the expense of people? Sure - but that's not the business objective. The business objective is to return value to shareholders, and this company was near bankruptcy in the not so distant past. So even though I think it's gross, I get what KV is doing. I don't agree....just saying from a busines standpoint, I get it.

However, the FDA has a responsibility to the people of this country. And the MOD has a responsibility to prevent premature births. The support of Makena by both these groups is a total failure. I found this post an interesting analysis on the MOD involvement

While I am and will always be so grateful to the March of Dimes for the work that they have done, and what that means for my family, I believe this will be the last year I am supporting this organization. I'm also taking down my fundraising badge. I am drawing a line between my gratitude for their past accomplishments and a fundamental disagreement with where the organization is going today. I kept thinking I had to keep supporting them as a thank you. But I realize I can't ask people to give money to an organization if I don't believe in how they are managing their organization going forward.

Instead I will focus my efforts on local charities that are making a direct impact on our community and that I have greater faith that dollars I am giving are being managed appropriately.


NovelTeaMommy said...

Thank you so much for sharing. I had the 17P shots with Elly. While there is no proof (i.e. she wasn't a third so we have no idea if I would have went FT w/o the shots), it gave me great peace of mind to think that I was doing everything in my abiility to make sure she was as healthy as could be at birth. So sad that this will be eliminated for some women.

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