Health Highlights: Feb. 13, 2017

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Newly Approved Muscular Dystrophy Drug to Cost $89,000 a Year

A steroid drug long available in other countries recently received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to treat a rare disease called Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which affects about 15,000 Americans.

U.S. patients and their families have long been able to import deflazacort for about $1,200 a year on average, but the new list price for the drug in the U.S. is $89,000, the Washington Post reported.

After rebates and discounts, the net price of the drug that goes by the brand name Emflaza will be $54,000 a year, according to Babar Ghias, chief financial officer of Marathon Pharmaceuticals.

The cost of the drug for patients would be “zero to low out-of-pocket expense,” because of insurance and financial assistance programs that the company will offer, Ghias told the Post.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a genetic disease that robs boys of the ability to walk by the time they’re in their teens and kills them as young adults. Studies show that deflazacourt helps patients retain muscle strength, the Post reported.

The FDA’s approval of Emflaza was praised by the patient advocacy group Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy. In a statement, the group said it hopes “this means easier access for more families. There are many questions still to be answered, including pricing, and we look forward to talking to Marathon with the community to begin to answer those questions.”

University of California at Davis Professor Craig McDonald told the Post he has used deflazacort in his clinic for a decade and that about 60 of his patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy are taking the drug.

Most of his patients receive the drug for free through an expanded access program funded by Marathon. Many patients he sees — whose parents are migrant workers or covered by California’s Medicaid program — can’t afford $1,200 out of pocket to import the drug.

“Now the hope is at least all children will have access to an actual FDA approved therapy for Duchenne,” McDonald told the Post.


Listeria Fears Spur Sara Lee and Sargento Cheese Recalls

Possible listeria contamination has led to the recall of Sargento Ultra Thin Sliced Longhorn Colby and Chef Blends Shredded Nacho & Taco Cheeses, as well as Sara Lee Sliced Monterey Jack Cheese with Jalapeno Peppers and Sliced Colby Jack Cheese.

Sargento is recalling products made with Longhorn Colby cheese that was supplied by an outside supplier, Deutsch Kase Haus, and may be contaminated with listeria bacteria. There have been no confirmed illnesses linked with the Sargento products.

The cheese in question was all packaged at Sargento’s plant in Plymouth, Wisconsin. For more information head to or call 1-800-243-3737.

The Sara Lee recall involves 734 cases of cheese distributed in Alabama, California, Louisiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Texas. All were also made by an outside supplier on the same day and with the same equipment as the Deutsch Kase Haus–supplied cheese that was recalled due to potential listeria contamination.

Consumers who bought the recalled Sara Lee products should return them to the store for a credit. For more information, call Sara Lee at 888-747-7611. The company also said that it has received no reports of illness associated with the recalled products.

Leave a Reply