An expensive drug that is given mainly to premature babies is at the middle of a clash between the creator and the nation’s top pediatrician group, which has recommended cutting back on use of the medication. The clash involves new procedures that have come from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which are stating that medical evidence has been showing the drug aids very few babies other than the very youngest of preemies. The medicine is used to protect against a common but fairly mild virus that can cause serious lung problems.
It is the second time in as many years that the important group has suggested reducing use of the medicine, which is sold by the company Medlmmune under the brand name Synagis. MedImmune decided to fight back by putting out full page newspaper ads which read that the updated policy was threatening some of the most vulnerable of all babies.
Synagis protects against respiratory syncytial virus or RSV. It can infect nearly 90 percent of U.S. children by the age of 2. For the majority, it usually causes only mild, cold like symptoms but it is also the most common reason for pneumonia in infants in America, and over 125,000 young children are put into the hospital with RSV every single year, stated the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC.
The drug was permitted in 1998 for use in babies who were considered “high-risk.” This was founded on research that showed benefits for specific children including premature babies born at 35 weeks or before. The pediatricians’ group explained that it has pursued to find more specific direction because the government’s description of high risk is too unclear.
The medication is given in a series of injections and they cost thousands of dollars. A recent delay in Synagis sales might be one explanation of MedImmune’s strategies, which have even included enlisting parents to aid in hyping the drug. Its sales have dropped nearly 20 percent in the same period this year when compared to 2013. This is according to an earnings report that came from its parent company.
A Medlmmune company spokesperson explained that it took out full page ads in several major newspapers across the United States because they stated they believe it is important to enlighten parents, including the half million women who give birth prematurely every year, – of the choices being made that might sway the lives of their babies.
Dr. H. Cody Meissner, who is an infectious disease expert at Tufts Medical Center, believes the drug can somewhat reduce the chances for being hospitalized but does not lessen hospital stays or diminish the chances of long-term complications or even death.
There have been numerous advances in the treatment for preemies in recent years and they have made the use of Synagis, also known as palivizumab, unnecessary for a lot of babies, stated the academy. Its new guidelines state that it should be used for infants born only before 29 weeks; older preemies who have chronic lung diseases and those who suffer certain heart problems; and other children who are at-risk with certain diseases that are younger than age 2.
However the academy stated in their guidelines, published on Monday, that healthy older preemies should not receive the drug. Melony Sorbero, who is a Rand Corp. researcher, and has studied RSV, explained that the academy’s tightened sanctions make sense based on scientific evidence.
The expensive drug Synagis, which is given mainly to premature babies, is at the middle of a clash between the creator and the nation’s top pediatrician’s group. It has been recommended in being cut back on use of the medication. The clash involves new procedures that have come from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which are stating that medical evidence has been showing the drug aids very few babies other than the very youngest of preemies. The medicine is used to protect against a common but fairly mild virus that can cause serious lung problems
By Kimberly Ruble