A scorpion antivenom that was cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last month is causing sticker shock for Arizona residents.
The Arizona Republic, a Phoenix-area newspaper, is reporting that Phoenix hospitals are charging patients as much as $12,467 per vial of the antivenom. With a full treatment calling for three to five vials, medical costs can soar to over $60,000. As The Republic points out, the antivenom is almost always used to prevent more serious treatment for children, the elderly, and others who have bad reactions to scorpion stings. The worst part is, many insurance companies have not yet figured out what a "reasonable price" is for the drug, and so do not yet cover treatment with the drug.
While doctors and hospitals are complaining about the high cost of the medication, the pharmaceutical industry is saying it's all part of the high cost of medical care in the U.S. The Republic quotes a doctor who participated in the trials as saying the cost is part of the antivenom's 'new drug' status. The doctor states that patients who forego antivenom treatment due to the cost could end up in the intensive care unit, which is even more expensive.
Though it is manufactured and has been available in Mexico for years, the antivenom has only recently been approved for use in the U.S. The drug, named Anascorp, was approved by the FDA on back August 3, and is licensed in the U.S. to Rare Disease Therapeutics, Inc.