Price of Progesterone Injection For Pregnant Women Skyrockets

Cost Of 17P, A Premature Birth Preventative, Jumps From $7 To $1,200

The cost of a weekly progesterone shot many moms-to-be need in order to keep their babies full-term has skyrocketed from less than $10 to $1,200.

7NEWS found the price hike is putting babies in danger.

Amy Gordon’s 1-year-old-son Finley was born at 25 weeks.

“(He was) 1 pound 9 ounces. He was an IVF baby and actually a twin. We lost his twin brother at 22 weeks,” said Gordon.

Gordon learned she was expecting another baby a few months ago. Gordon’s doctor told her she would likely have another premature birth, but she had a better chance of carrying her baby full-term if she took weekly injections of progesterone called 17P. It's medical name is hydroxyprogesterone caproate.

"(It’s) the only drug that women with pre-term labor can take, not only to stop it, but to prevent it from happening in the first place,” Gordon said.

Gordon was paying $7 for each dose of 17P custom mixed by a compound pharmacist. That changed last week when a patent went into effect and Makena, which is mass-produced and FDA-approved, replaced 17P.

“They said they were going to mass produce it instead of having it compounded in pharmacies. Which I thought, 'Hey, that's going to reduce the price, right?'” Gordon said.

Gordon was shocked to learn her weekly shots now cost $1,200. At 24 weeks along Gordon has only two doses left of the drug that's keeping her from going into pre-term labor.

“Suddenly I realize that I don't know what I'm going to do," said Gordon.

17P is no longer an option for pregnant women. Last week compound pharmacists like Robin Hyman had to stop creating it.

“We didn't get any information (on) how to bridge the patient. We were just told cease and desist. You can't compound this product anymore. We saw a mad rush last week of patients and physicians calling to try to stock up a little bit. But that's only the few that knew about it. What's going to happen to the many more that didn't get the information?” Hyman said.

Hyman mixed 17P for pregnant women for 20 years, and said compound pharmacists nationwide are questioning the jump in price for its replacement, Makena.

“This is a product that's a specialized product for a specialized patient population. There's no reason that they should price gouge for this product,” Hyman said.

To carry to full-term, with about 30 weeks of doses, pregnant women could pay close $30,000 for Makena.

“Would I pay $30,000 to maintain my pregnancy if I could? Absolutely, but no woman should have to. They're putting such a high price on this drug for women, who are, you know, their baby's safety is being held hostage, essentially. It's up for ransom and that's wrong,” Gordon said.

Gordon has two weeks to find a way to pay for her injections.

“It's not an option really. I mean, what else am I going to do, cross my legs? I will fight my insurance if I have to. I will contact the company,” Gordon said.

7NEWS checked, and the manufacturer of Makena, Ther-Rx, announced plans to offer price break programs for mothers who can't afford the injections, but the specifics of the patient assistance program are not available.

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