Maker of Prematurity Drug Slashes Price in Response to Critics

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The saga of the prematurity-prevention drug Makena and the outrage over its pricing continues: on Friday, the maker of the drug, a subsidiary of KV Pharmaceutical, announced it would reduce its price 55%, from $1,500 to $690 per dose.

It also offered Medicaid programs its “standard” additional 23.1% discount and said it would cap the cost for the drug per pregnancy at the price for 15 injections.

That’s still significantly more than the $10 per dose charged by compounding pharmacies, which currently make the drug and which the FDA announced on Wednesday it would permit to continue to do so. The drug, a form of progesterone, can cut premature births and resulting disabilities by 33%.

(More on FDA Will Allow Cheaper Version of Pregnancy Drug to Be Sold)

“Ensuring access to an FDA-approved sterile, injectable medication, manufactured under mandatory strict quality controls, is in the best interests of all high-risk women,” said Greg Divis, CEO of KV Pharmaceutical Company, in a press release. “We understand the concerns that key stakeholders raised under our original pricing structure.”

But KV’s critics are not appeased: in response, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) — who has led the charge in Congress to reduce the price — issued his own press statement. “Today may be April Fool’s Day,” Brown said. “But KV Pharmaceutical’s decision to reduce the list price of its drug to nearly $700 per dose is no laughing matter.”

He added, “Even with the new price, a full course of treatment of Makena will still cost more than $10,000. KV’s announcement is small step in the right direction, but I remain extremely concerned about the enormous strain this drug will place on Medicaid budgets and patients with private health insurance.”

(More on Can Patients Get Around Exorbitant Cost of Pregnancy Drug?)

Brown noted that taxpayers have already spent $21 million on the development of the drug through studies funded by the NIH.

The March of Dimes initially supported KV, but has now distanced itself from the company, which has donated about $1 million to the charity over the last 10 years. “The company’s handling of the launch of Makena, and the initial list price, were highly unsatisfactory and unacceptable to the March of Dimes and the families we represent,”  a representative said in a press release.

Stay tuned: this battle is far from over and, hopefully, it will bring greater attention to the overall issue of drug pricing.