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Oct 29, 2013 1:46 AM by Sean Mooney

Cost of Valley Fever drug bites people who care for dogs

TUCSON- According to the University of Arizona's Valley Fever Center for Excellence, Arizona cases have been cut in half since their peak, in 2011. Unfortunately the cost for a drug that effectively treats the disease has skyrocketed.

Fluconazole is a drug used to treat both humans and animals for Valley Fever. With dogs three times more likely to contract Valley Fever, those who are seeing the biggest bites in their budgets are dog owners and the people who run organizations that care for dogs.

Even though the overall the number of Valley Fever cases is way down, Dr. Jen Wilcox, of the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, says that is not the case at the Humane Society, "I don't know why but we have seen a huge number of really severe number of Valley Fever cases this year in big dogs and so the cost of Fluconazole doubling has really crippled a lot of our budget."

A months supply of Fluconozole did cost around $30, now that same months supply may cost upwards of $300. According to Dr. John Galgiani of the University of Arizona's Valley Fever Center for Excellence, the reason is all about competition or rather a lack of, "As I understand it, now where there used to be three or four manufacturers of this generic drug, there is now only one, and so when there is a monopoly the price went up a great deal."

Mitchel Stover is currently fostering two pit bulls named "Red" and "Blue", that came to the Humane Society with severe cases of Valley Fever. He says Fluconozole helped save both dogs, "They were extremely bad, you could see all of their ribs, Blue was so sick that he would lay down for hours at a time" Stover said, "for awhile we were actually thinking that euthanasia would have been the best option for Blue but with the medications we were able to give him a second chance."

Whether it's dogs or people who contract the fungal disease carried in dirt, John Galgiani says it is Arizonans who will pay the most for one of the best drugs to treat Valley Fever, "It hits us especially hard because two thirds of all Valley Fever infections occur in Arizona so we're the ones who are going to feel this the most."

Dr. Galgiani says that while there are other effective drugs to treat Valley Fever, they cost as much or even more than the new cost for Fluconazole.

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