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Neonatal Drug Price Skyrockets, Concerns Parents, Doctors

By Carol Cavazos, CBS 11 News
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Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images

Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A drug to prevent premature births has skyrocketed from $10 dollars a shot to $1,500 a shot.

That’s because a pharmaceutical giant just obtained the exclusive rights to market the formula for the next seven years.

It makes mothers like Kiley Bounds thankful they’re done having children. Bounds’ first son Jaxson was born six weeks premature.

“It was really hard,” Bounds said. “I wasn’t even able to hold him for three days.”

Jaxson spent a month in the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit.

“We even took him home on a machine. I don’t think any mom should have to take their baby home on a machine,” she added.

That’s why Kiley took a medication to prevent an early pregnancy with her second son Beaux, who was born 11 days ago.

“The experience was totally different. It was great. Being able to bring the baby home and getting to do all the things we didn’t get to do the first time,” Kiley said.

Kiley received a total of 20 shots of the drug that prevents premature pregnancies. Her cost without insurance?

“Right around $10 a shot?” Kiley guessed.

That cost has now shot up to $1,500 a shot now that KV Pharmaceuticals has won exclusive rights to market the drug, a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone. Its brand name is Makena, pronounced mah-keena.

“My first reaction was probably shocked,” said Dr. Stephen Krombach.

Krombach is an OB-GYN at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center. He’s worried about his patients.

“If we’re talking about charging a patient $1,500 a week for 20 weeks, not everybody is going to be able to afford that,” Krombach said.

But some pharmacists said there’s a remedy for this patent and price predicament: Have a Compounding Pharmacy make the medication for you.

“It’s the same product that’s been around for 50 years, ” Lewis Hall said. Hall owns Hall pharmacy.

Hall says it’s OK if he makes less than 24 units a batch. He doesn’t even get orders for more than 24 a month.

“If you go over 24, you’re more into manufacturing than into compounding,” Hall said.

He said he can also make an off brand formula, all in the interest of helping women and doctors deliver healthy, full-term babies.

Doctors said they’re trying to work with the pharmaceutical company to bring down the price.

Meanwhile, KV Pharmaceuticals said they’re committed to making sure every mother who needs the medication will be able to get it and afford it.

And, they say they’ve set up a patient financial assistance program to reduce the out-of-pocket costs for qualified patients.

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