Let's talk about the March of Dimes for a minute. You all know that the MOD is all about the preemies, right? They help promote and fund research to help preterm babies and to prevent preterm births. Okay. So, for many decades, obstetricians have used progesterone (a hormone naturally present in women's bodies during pregnancy) to help pregnancies along -- for reasons I'm ill-equipped to explain, it seems to help first trimester pregnancies stick, and to prevent preterm labor in the second and third trimesters. So this company, KV Pharmaceuticals, branded their own progesterone and got FDA approval to market it, under the name Makena. And guess what happened? Can you guess? The cost of each shot went from $10 to $1500. FIFTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS.
Here's what that means for someone like me. If I were to successfully get pregnant again (this is a for instance -- don't go getting all wound up, people), I would start receiving progesterone treatments starting at week 15 or thereabouts. I would get them for the rest of that pregnancy. If I were to go as close to full-term as they'd let me (about 36 weeks, thank you two previous c-sections), that's about twenty weeks of progesterone. Which now would cost $30,000. $200 last year, $30,000 as of last week.
Why? Because the FDA cannot control the pricing. And under the FDA's orphan drug laws (meant to promote research and development of treatments for rare diseases and conditions), KV has a seven-year monopoly on progesterone. They apparently can sue any company that mixes a generic version of their drug (which has not been patented, but they've been sending out cease and desist notices to companies that have been mixing non-Makena progesterone for years).
What on earth has this got to do with the March of Dimes, you ask? Well, turns out KV (actually Ther-RX, the subsidiary that will market Makena) has donated loads of money to the MOD. And guess who praised this new drug? Go on, guess. That's right! The March of Dimes! Surprise!
So, here we are. And it just so happens to be the time of year when people (like my awesome sister) start putting together teams to do the annual March for Babies to raise money for research on prematurity.
I was all set to walk this year for Jane. And now this. I am really uncomfortable with raising money for an organization that would make such an ethically questionable alliance. And yet, I know that the March of Dimes does good work in helping babies like Jane.
Many of you donated money to the March of Dimes in Jane's name. What do you think of all this?
There are many, many places to go to read more about this. Here are a few sites and articles: