There’s a crisis affecting pet owners in Arizona whose dogs (and some cats) suffer from Valley Fever.
According to a letter that Ina Road Animal Hospital sent to patients in late August:
“To our dear clients, especially those whose pets have Valley Fever and are being treated with Fluconazole:
Because several drug manufacturers have decided to no longer make Fluconazole, the price of Fluconazole has increased dramatically. In some cases, owners have reported a 10-fold increase in the price. We wanted to let you know of some options with regards to this medication.
100mg Fluconazole is still substantially cheaper than 200mg if you don’t mind giving more pills.
Pricing probably will not affect compounded Fluconazole. There are some pets who do better on manufactured Fluconazole than on the compounded formulation; this may be because the gastrointestinal absorption is better. Also, compounded medication is not as rigorously monitored and there is more potential for mishandled drug. Pet Health Pharmacy, Road Runner Pharmacy and Reed’s Compounding Pharmacy are pharmacies we commonly use.
Call us or your pharmacy if you have questions. If you have any influence with Congress, lobby them to make pharmaceutical manufacturers keep medications affordable!
The Veterinarians and Staff of Ina Road Animal Hospital”
Welcome to the Valley Fever Center for Excellence’s official website.
Two-thirds of all U.S. Valley Fever infections are contracted in Arizona. Nationally, Valley Fever is uncommon and considered an orphan disease. (According to Wikipedia, a rare disease is also referred to as an orphan disease, is any disease that affects a small percentage of the population.) Yet it is so concentrated in Arizona that this state needed an advocate to promote improvements in understanding, medical care, and research about this disease. For this reason the Arizona Board of Regents approved the proposal for the creation of the Valley Fever Center for Excellence at the University of Arizona.
On Facebook, All-American Bully Buddies Rescue has been doing research about the price increases of fluconazole
On October 21:
FLUCONAZOLE UPDATE: Please like and share as this information may just prevent an owner of a Valley Fever dog from taking their dog in to be killed due to the cost now associated with treating them. Fry’s and Walgreens were the last hold outs and now even their 100 mg tablets have jumped up. As before Fry’s is still the best deal.
–Fry’s 100mg #60 $43.19, #90 $61.59, #180 $114.99
–Fry’s 200mg #60 $65.99, #90 $95.39, #180 $183.59
–Walgreens 100mg #60 $100.20, #90 $147.30, #180 $288.60
–Walgreens 200mg #60 $117.39, #90 $173.08, #180 $340.16
–Costco 100mg tabs 30-$102.90
While most people would assume that Costco would be low – not so much
Fluconazole 100mg Tablets (sold per tablet) #11223 for $2.59 per tablet
Arizona Daily Star wrote an article about the cost of Valley Fever meds and called around – the range of prices is astounding. From $65.99 at Fry’s to $537 at Target!
In late August I also reached out to Lisa Shubitz about the high cost of fluconazole. Here’s her response:
I would say Ina Road Animal Hospital’s email addressed this topic really nicely and honestly. Pfizer makes Diflucan, the name brand product, and it is still $10-14 a pill and you are unlikely to get anywhere with them except perhaps on a case by case basis for an individual pet. But the dog-owning population as a whole is stuck dealing with this problem. We had it before the drug went generic in about 2005, and we are apparently faced with it again. I remember when we could not afford anything but compounded fluconazole. That is what my whippet Arrow took after I had exhausted my bank account with buying real Diflucan for about 5-6 months at about $250 every two weeks.
There will be some drug failures, but most owners will have to opt for compounded drug and then look at alternatives if the dogs fail to respond to that. One option is itraconazole from Canada. I use a fair amount of this on my patients. The drug is a little trickier to use and more expensive than what we have been used to paying for generic fluconazole, but will be less expensive in some cases than the new cost of generic fluconazole. Another option is that people may go back to using ketoconazole. There are many things I don’t like about ketoconazole, but it is inexpensive and available generically. Before fluconazole was widely used, adverse effects to ketoconazole were the number one topic of email I received on valley fever in dogs. But it is better than dead dogs, and if it does not work, another choice can be made.
I hope this information is somewhat helpful, though not entirely satisfactory in solving the problem.”
Lisa F. Shubitz, DVM
Valley Fever Center for Excellence
Department of Veterinary Science and Microbiology
University of Arizona
New Mexico, parts of Texas and So. Calif., but mostly Arizona (Phoenix & Tucson) suffer from Valley Fever.
Who can advocate for fair pricing? Should the dog-owning public be stuck with this problem? What about our Arizona legislators serving in Congress? Arizona state legislators? Arizona Veterinarians? UA Valley Fever Center for Excellence? Help?