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Huge jump in price of prenatal drug has doctors worried

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A huge jump in the price for a drug that's helping prevent premature birth has doctors worried.

The drug Makena delivers a dose of progesterone, a hormone that helps prevent high-risk pregnant women from going into early labor.

Previously, pharmacies could make the drug themselves, costing patients no more than $20 for a weekly injection.

But now that the government has awarded exclusive rights to a pharmaceutical company, Makena's price tag has soared up to $1,500.

"Women in small, rural areas have not had good access to the drug, so one of the benefits of a large company is it's going to be physically available," said Lexi Eller, an internal fetal medicine specialist at Intermountain Medical Center. "But the problem, is it's a hundred times more expensive. It will be very inaccessible to so many people."

Faced with that big price increase health advocates fear women will go without the drug, and that may lead to more premature births and birth defects.

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