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$ 143,000 girl bill for snakebite treatment reveals a price cut



  Even this copperhead thinks this is crazy.
Enlarge / Even this copperhead thinks this is crazy.

Snake bites can be painful and scary. But they seem like a weak nip after the billing department of the hospital has cut their teeth.

The emergency treatment of a copperhead bite in a 9-year-old Indiana girl last summer cost $ 1

42,938 in health news, according to a report by Kaiser. The bill includes $ 67,957 for four vials antivenin. That's $ 16,989.25 for each vial – more than five times the average list price of $ 3,198. The bill also included $ 55,577.64 for the transportation of ambulance aircraft.

The now-ten-year-old girl was in the summer camp last July and was in Illinois. As she stepped over a group of stones on the way, she got a toe on her right foot. Her camp advisors suspected that it was a copperhead snake, which bit her and hurried to seek medical treatment. She arrived in St. Vincent Evansville Hospital in Indiana with an ambulance, where the doctors gave her four vials of an antidote called CroFab. She was then taken to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis for recreation. All in all, she was released within 24 hours of the bite.

Crofab, like other antidotes, is made according to a standard procedure: Antivenin producers milk snakes and other venomous creatures for their poison, which they then inject into small, harmless syringes. Quantities of animals (in this case, sheep, in other horses). These animals make protective antibodies against the venomous components of the poison called Venin. Manufacturers harvest these antibodies against Venin targeting from animal blood, process them, test for quality and safety, then freeze them and distribute them as an antidote.

Although this is a straightforward process, relatively few people need an antidote of any kind – less than 50,000 a year in the country. And that leads to steep prices.

"[W] When the prices of these life-saving antidotes are placed on the market, the impact of development costs, along with bureaucracy and the profit motive, will increase." Leslie Boyer wrote in 2015 in an editorial on the matter. She is the founding director of the VIPER Institute (Venom Immunochemistry, Pharmacology and Emergency Response Institute) of the University of Arizona's Health Sciences Center in Tucson, which helped develop Crofab through government grants.

In her editorial from 2015, Boyer complained about the prices for a scorpion that had also contributed to the development in their group. It was between $ 7,900 and $ 39,652 per vial in the US. A sister drug cost in Mexico now only about 100 US dollars.

The pervasive difference in price stems from the "application of a profit-driven philosophy of drug development to treatments used by other countries in the public health field," she concluded

as KHN complained of St. Vincent Evansville Hospital on his charges Crofab interviewed, the hospital noted that the family of snake-bitten girls was not on the hook. The insurance covered the price of the counter goods. And in the end, the family insurer negotiated the $ 67,957 antivenin bill for $ 44,092.87.

However, as KHN notes, such spending by insurers helps to increase premiums and overall healthcare costs. The store also noted that the hospital has now dropped costs for Crofab. It is now $ 5,096.76 per vial, less than the previous $ 16,989.25. The price change comes in the context of the US release of an antiviral product called Anavip in the US with a list price of $ 1,220 per vial in October.


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