Synagis boom lifts pharmacy sales

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

EL RENO, Okla. - Booming sales of the pediatric drug Synagis, a staple of the burgeoning specialty prescription market, this winter impressed and surprised officials at Canadian Valley Medical Solutions.

“We are really seeing a great increase in the use of Synagis,” said Susan Schwarz, a pharmacist and vice president of clinical operations at Canadian Valley. “I think doctors are getting more information about the drug and more insurance companies have started paying for it because they see the financial benefits of it.”

Synagis is an injection given to babies to prevent Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), the most common respiratory virus in infants, infecting virtually all children by the age of two.

In babies born prematurely or those with lung, respiratory or heart problems, RSV can be severe, resulting in 125,000 hospitalizations per year, according to Synagis’s manufacturer MedImmune.

Synagis is considered by some industry watchers as one of the specialty drugs that could help expand provider revenues if, as expected, Medicare slashes respiratory med reimbursement in 2005. That’s because Synagis complements the pediatric respiratory market because the patient base and distribution methods are similar.

Along with Canadian Valley’s success with the drug, Pediatric Services of America, a provider of pediatric equipment and infusion services, also noted a 23% increase in its pharmacy sales this quarter, which the company’s president and CEO, Joe Sansone, attributed mostly to Synagis sales.

“It is the Synagis season,” he said.