The senior vice president (SVP) of marketing for the March of Dimes (MOD) reached out to me via e-mail on Monday about Makena pricing. He wanted to let me know the March of Dimes is “doing all we can to ensure access for all women,” (which apparently includes a rather tepid letter from the President of the March of Dimes to the CEO of Ther-Rx expressing serious concerns about the price). Ther-Rx has agreed to meet with MOD in Washington next week to hear concerns about price point and the effectiveness of the financial assistance program.
The SVP thought from my posts that I “may still have some concerns about how we approached this and why.” That he would be, “happy to try to answer any questions,” and lastly that he hopes I will give the MOD the opportunity to win back my trust.
My reply was that to win back my trust I need answers to the real questions. The hard questions. I am still waiting to hear back (but it’s only been 24 hours, after all).
So for the record, here are my questions for the March of Dimes.
1) Every industry insider I spoke with picked a $1500 price point for Makena (that is how orphan drugs are priced). The colchicine fiasco should really have given you cause to think of the ramifications, after all, prematurity costs a lot more than gout. Expressing your concern about the price after the fact just tells me that no one thought it through. Your total income as a 501(c)(3) is $228,756,000 so you deal in big dollars every day. I would like to think you are all a little better at business decisions, and you know, basic math skills. Did none of you think about doing the math in advance on how much Makena might actually cost?
2) Your president (Dr. Jennifer Howse Ph.D.) makes $641,000 a year. Do you think she is the person to be discussing price point (considering the median household income in the U.S. is about $44,000)? And I don’t care of that is on point with other non-profits, an FDA application that was backed by the March of Dimes is taking money out of the pockets of desperate families (one mom I spoke with had her co-payment jump from $10 to $750). BTW, what do you think is a reasonable price point for a medication that was previously at most $30 a week?
3) Why did the March of Dimes support this application by KV Pharamceuticals? Telling me you wanted “everything made on the same equipment” just won’t fly because mixing 17OP is not the hardest thing a compounding pharmacists does and there have been no reports of compounding issues. Did you feel post marketing surveillance was required for a drug that has been used in pregnancy since the 1950′s? If so, why? That’s a preety inexpensive study, so why wasn’t it simply funded by The March if Dimes. After all, you have reported more than $43 million in net assets.
4) When did KV Pharamceuticals begin contributing to the March of Dimes and how much are their donations? While it may not be true, it looks as if KV Pharamceuticals gave money to the March of Dimes to try and get in with the cool kids. If you told me they had been giving you large amounts of money for the past 10 years because their CEO had a grandson who was a preemie, I would of course thing nothing about their donations. If they just started supporting the March of Dimes in the past 2 years, I might have a different opinion.
So if you want to win back my trust, I need some answers. I know I am not the only one asking these questions.
Do you have questions for the March of Dimes? Leave them in the comments section.