South Carolina is being sued by a drug company, as the company claims the state is required to use its product instead of cheaper generic versions.
The state Department of Health and Human Services (SCDHHS) says it will fight the lawsuit filed by K-V Pharmaceutical Company. The issue is over a hormone injection 17P that helps pregnant women avoid pre-term births. Since 2005, the state has been giving a generic form of the drug to its Medicaid patients.
K-V’s drug– branded as Makena– costs $1500 per injection, which SCDHHS director Tony Keck said costs 75 times as much as compounded 17P. K.V. Pharmaceutical says its version of the injection is the only one that has U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval. It has filed similar lawsuits against Georgia and the FDA.
In a release, the company said its drug is recommended by the FDA, “In certain states, Medicaid participants, in particular, have been denied access to the only FDA-approved medication for their condition… despite FDA’s repeated statements that Makena offers greater assurance of safety and effectiveness than compounded 17P formulations.”
K-V says the actions of South Carolina and other states have forced it to the brink of financial insolvency. Keck claims the company wants states to pay the exceptionally-high prices to help it avoid going out of business.
“Forcing our physicians to use Makena so K-V can meet its quarterly profit objectives is not an option for us,” he said in a statement released this week. “This is the perfect example why health care is so expensive in the United States – a pharmaceutical company that believes it should use lawyers to force doctors to prescribe a drug they don’t want to use at a cost many times more than the current therapy that is working well to reduce prematurity.”
South Carolina doctors can use Makena for Medicaid patients if they go through a separate process, but DHHS officials say none have requested it.