Another Reason We Need Price Controls On Prescription Drugs

An Arizona woman was shocked when her brush with a scorpion led to a stinging $83,046 hospital bill.

Marcie Edmonds, 52, called the poison control center an hour after a bark scorpion stung her in the stomach while she was opening a box of air conditioner filters. She experienced mild tingling, throat tightness, darting eyes, muscle spasms, and difficulty breathing.

As a typical illness from the venom progresses from numbness and tingling to uncontrolled muscle movements, it can resemble a seizure, said Dr. Steven Curry, the Director of Medical Toxicology at the Banner Good Samaratin Medical Center. The muscle spasms spread to the chest and cause respiratory problems, which can be life-threatening, especially in children, Curry said.

The poison control center advised Edmonds to go to a hospital, so she went to Chandler Regional Medical Center, where doctors administered two vials of a relatively new anti-venom called Anascorp, which was approved by the Federal Drug Administration last August and is distributed to hospitals for about $3,800 per vial, toxicologists say.

Edmonds left the hospital after a three hour stay, but the bill that arrived several weeks later came out to $83,046, or $39,652 per Anascorp vial, ABCNews.com confirmed. That’s about 10 times what the hospital paid for each vial.

“Everyone I talk to says, ‘You’ve got to be kidding,’ ” Edmonds said to the Arizona Republic.

The drug is made from horse antibodies and comes from Mexico, where it costs about $100 per dose, according to Kaiser Health News.

So far this year, the Banner Good Samaritan Poison and Drug Information Center, which handles poison control for Phoenix, has had 5,414 calls for scorpion stings. No deaths have been reported in more than three years, according to Good Samaritan spokeswoman Rebecca Armendariz.

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