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Entries in birth drug (2)

Wednesday
Aug032011

Chinese Women Try to Bypass One-Child Policy with Pills for Twins 

Photodisc/Thinkstock(GUANGZHOU, China) -- Women in southern China are trying to circumvent the country's one-child policy by using fertility drugs to have multiple births, according to reports in local newspapers, in the latest sign of growing opposition to the country's birth control strategy.

"Experts are deeply concerned about the rapidly increasing birth rate of twins," read the Yangzhou Evening News.

"Some private hospitals are trying to lure customers by claiming that they can help them have twins," accused the Guangzhou Daily.

According to the Guangzhou Daily investigation, some private hospitals in Guangdong province are providing healthy, fertile women with infertility medicines, such as clomifene citrate, to stimulate ovulation and increase the chance of having twins or triplets.

The pills, dubbed "multiple baby pills" in Chinese, are taken orally and are only supposed to be available by prescription. According to Chinese fertility specialists, 20 to 30 percent of women who take the drugs have multiple births.

When not taken in the proper dosage the drugs can cause serious side effects, doctors warn.

There are no official statistics available on multiple births in China, but the Yangzhou Evening News pointed to Dr. Zhang's hospital as an example. The hospital had 24 twin births out of 1,600 mothers last year, which the newspaper called, "a proportion of twins born beyond the laws of nature."

In fact, 24 twins for 1,600 mothers amounts to a 1.5 percent birth rate, a small increase on the natural occurrence of twins in China which is 1.1 percent. In 2008, the U.S.'s twin birth rate was 3.25 percent, in part because of the country's use of fertility procedures such as in-vitro fertilization.

ABC News contacted three fertility hospitals in Guangzhou to see if any would prescribe the drugs for a healthy, fertile couple who wanted twins. Of those, one was willing to help.

"No formal hospital would provide this service, because it's not part of the regular medical treatment," the customer service personnel at Guangzhou Yikan Infertility Treatment Center said. "But if a couple insists that they want to have twins by artificial means, we can do this if they meet the requirements."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar292011

Maternity Advocates Challenge High Cost of Preterm Birth Drug

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The March of Dimes is teaming up with leading maternity experts to lobby for KV Pharmaceuticals to reconsider its decision to boost the price of a drug that prevents premature birth from $10 a shot to $1,500 a shot.

The drug company gained exclusive rights to produce a progesterone shot used to prevent premature births in high-risk mothers from the Food and Drug Administration in February. Soon after, it announced plans to list the drug at a price 150 times higher than the cost of the non-branded version women have been using for years. The shot has been available in unregulated form from specialty compounding pharmacies for years for $10 a pop for years, but now, marketed as Makena, the drug will cost $1,500 per dose -- an estimated $30,000 in total per pregnancy.

The pricing tactic has outraged doctors, patients, and leading maternity advocates. Several organizations and public officials have sent letters to KV Pharmaceuticals urging the company to amend its business plan. The March of Dimes, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine will meet March 29 with the company to urge KV to reconsider their pricing.

"Progesterone is so cheap to make and we never had a problem with the compounding pharmacies making it. There's probably some variation between pharmacies, which nobody likes, but nobody likes $1,500 a shot either. That seems like highway robbery," says Dr. Jacques Moritz, director of gynecology at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York.

KV Pharmaceuticals plans to offer financial assistance to low-come households in need of the drug, but how private health insurance companies and Medicaid will respond to this price spike remains to be seen. Many doctors fearing that access to this treatment will become severely limited or interrupted for those currently mid-treatment.

And because FDA laws prohibit compounding pharmacies from making FDA-approved products, doctors will be legally obligated to stop using the cheaper version of this drug, a representative for the company told ABC News.

Doctors fear the financial burden this new pricing will place on the healthcare system as a whole. In a March 16 article on the issue in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Joanne Armstrong, a Texas-based obstetrician, wrote:

"[N]o program providing short-term financial assistance to some patients will mitigate the harm that this new cost will cause to publicly funded programs, including Medicaid, and the women who rely on them. Nor will it mitigate the cost to employers and individuals who purchase insurance coverage and therefore directly bear all increases in health care costs."

Armstrong estimated that preventing premature births with the old, non-branded version of the drug cost approximately $41.7 million a year, saving $519 million in medical costs that would have been incurred by caring for the pre-term babies. With Makena, the price of preventing the same amount of premature birth skyrockets to $4 billion annually.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio