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A Moral Victory for Pregnant Women

By Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway

This post is written as a follow-up to The Hijacking of Pregnant Women.

It is said that sometimes you have to rock the boat in order to shift the course of progress. Well today pregnant women have reason to celebrate. The winds of change are apparent.

Bowing under pressure, K-V Pharmaceutical Company reduced the price of Makena from $1500 to $690. Makena is the trade name for hydroxyprogesterone caproate or 17OHP. It is a drug recently approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to reduce premature deliveries before 37 weeks if it is given before 21 weeks gestation.  It has been used for years as an off-label drug and costs approximately $10 to $20 to make by compound pharmacists. When the FDA gave K-V an exclusive right to manufacture the drug, their integrity flew out the window.  The pricing strategy of K-V is a case study of corporate greed. Most drug companies will use the “research and development” logic to explain their rationale for marking up the cost of a drug.  In the case of Makena, that excuse is valid. The research and development of Makena had already been done by Squibb Pharmaceuticals who had sold the drug for years. Is it any wonder why U.S. citizens will cross geographic borders and purchase drugs from their Canadian and Mexican neighbors?

Kudos are in order to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) who took the lead in questioning K‑V’s pricing strategies. The Society of Maternal Fetal Medicine, the American Academy of Pediatricians, the National Medical Association, the American College of Midwives and the Association of Women’s Health and Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses should also take a bow. To their credit, ACOG refused to accept any advertising from K-V regarding Makena, a decision that reduced their potential revenue but saved the lives of future generations. The FDA is also to be commended for allowing compounding pharmacies to continue to produce 17OHP which means pregnant women can purchase the drug for $10 to $20 as opposed to the K-V $690.00 sticker price. What a moral victory.

Perhaps the infamous words of Mark Twain say it best: “Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”

A healthy pregnancy doesn’t just happen, it takes a smart mother who knows what to do.

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