K-V Pharmaceutical Cuts Price of $10 Dollar Drug from $1,500 to $700

A couple weeks ago on AskDrManny, we reported on the company K-V Pharmaceutical, who was granted exclusive rights by the FDA to market and sell projesterone, a drug that many women rely on to carry their pregnancies to term.Progesterone has been used for years as a supplement to treatment of preterm labor.  It is given as a weekly shot and can be used for up to 20 weeks.

Before exclusivity rights were granted to K-V, who will market the drug as Makena, projesterone injections were made in special pharmacies that custom-compound treatments that are not federally approved.  They were availabe for $5-10 dollars per injection.

Two weeks ago, after the FDA gave them the rights, K-V announced they were hiking the price of Makena up to a jaw-dropping $1,500 per injection.  They also sent out letters to independent pharmacies claiming that the FDA would take enforcement action against them if they continued to make the drug.

The backlash from doctors, lawmakers and media outlets was immediate, and on Wednesday, the FDA publicly denied that it would take action against pharmacies that it would make a cheaper alternative.

Consequently, K-V has slashed the drug’s list price by 55 percent to $690 dollars per injection and offer supplemental rebates.  K-V has also capped the costs for a full course of therapy to a maximum of 15 inections and removed caps to qualify for financial assistance from the company.

But before we congratulate this company, let’s keep this in mind: at $690 dollars per injection, K-V is still selling projesterone at a 6,800 percent price increase. Seeing as how independent pharmacies have been able to sell projesterone for years at $10 dollars and still make a profit, the mark-up is only the slightest bit less outrageous than it was before.

K-V may be trying to show the government, doctors and consumers how “giving” they are by cutting their price so dramatically, but all I see is a selfish company that’s trying to pull a fast one over everybody.

Deep down, I think we all knew that the original $1,500 price was never actually going to make it to market.  I don’t think K-V expected it to either.

It seems much more likely that $700 dollars was the price K-V wanted to sell Makena at all along.  It’s still a ridiculous, exorbitant number, but I guess next to $1,500 dollars, it’s not supposed to look that bad.