Latest 2,000% Drug Price Hike Hurts Infants

Seizure medication goes way, way up in cost
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 16, 2015 5:50 PM CST
Latest 2,000% Drug Price Hike Hurts Infants
Stock image   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Rapid treatment is of utmost importance for babies diagnosed with infantile spasms, also known as West syndrome, a form of epilepsy that causes seizures and corresponding abnormal bursts of electrical activity in the brain. About half of the babies with it don't respond to the first drug that's tried, meaning doctors then use an injectable drug called Synacthen Depot, which one doctor says works 90% of the time. But Synacthen Depot is the latest drug to cause an uproar after a massive price hike, at least in Canada, CBC reports. "The price of Synacthen Depot increased by more than 2,000% from $33.05 per vial to $680 per vial," says a spokesperson for Alberta Health, which delisted the drug in July.

That means it won't be automatically paid for by Canada's government-subsidized health care anymore, TheStreet explains, though exceptions could be made on a case-by-case basis. And as for the price, Fusion explains that the drug requires a six-week course, for a total cost of $14,280. Officials in other Canadian provinces saw a similar hike in the cost of the drug. "This was just dropped like a bombshell," says a Toronto neurologist who is incensed by the price increase. Pharmaceutical company Mallinckrodt owns the rights to the drug in Canada after acquiring another company last year, and a rep says the drug was losing money when the company acquired it. "They just bought it and jacked up the price," says the neurologist. (When Canada tried to lower the price of another drug, it got sued by a US company.)

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