Drug regimen adherence key in keeping babies virus-free, study suggests

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The best available defense against serious lower respiratory infections in infants is a drug that can cost the consumer more than $2,000 a treatment.

That cost may prove problematic for some parents, said Diane Langkamp, co-author of a study that looked at the factors affecting compliance with the drug palivizumab (brand name Synagis). Langkamp did the study while an assistant professor of pediatrics at Ohio State University.

Palivizumab reduces an infant's risk of developing respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). RSV causes minor upper respiratory illnesses - such as colds - in older children and adults. But it can cause serious lower respiratory illnesses - such as pneumonia or bronchiolitis - in babies born prematurely or those with chronic lung disease.

Also, palivizumab must be given monthly during the RSV season, which starts in November in Ohio and usually lasts five months. Therefore, a season's treatment could cost more than $10,000. RSV is spread through person-to-person contact. "Palivizumab is a very effective preventive measure," said Langkamp, now director of the neonatal follow-up program at Children's Hospital Medical Center of Akron. "The drug is reserved for children two years of age and younger, and then only for those babies whose lungs aren't fully developed or have other complications.


Contact: Diane Langkamp
Ohio State University

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