Something That’s Mined and Is ‘As Old As Dirt’ Will Potentially Cost Hospitals Plenty

Selenious Acid Injection, used in the intravenous feeding process, is replacing Selenium, but could cost 1,300% more.

Perhaps Scott Knoer, chief pharmacy officer at Cleveland Clinic, says it best: “It’s not even a drug, it’s a trace element that is mined and has literally been around as long as dirt,” he tells Stat. “It’s not like they spent a lot of R&D money to invent it.”

The “they” Knoer refers to is American Regent, which was the only company that sold Selenium, a product that helps people draw nourishment intravenously. The product has been around decades, which is one of the reasons that it never got formal FDA approval, according to Stat. Well, last month American Regent did get FDA approval for Selenium’s replacement, Selenious Acid Injection, and then discontinued selling Selenium. The move will pay off handsomely for American Regent’s bottom line.

Stat: “Specifically, a microgram of the older Selenium had cost 4.4 cents, but a microgram of Selenious Acid costs 57 cents.” Knoer estimates that the switch in products will cost the Cleveland Clinic $1.8 million more in 2020.

American Regent responds that the company spent millions of dollars to file its application with the FDA, that Selenious Acid Injection has a different strength and dosing regimen than Selenium, and that it’s actually about 50% more, “$34.30 per patient a day compared with $17.73,” as Stat reports.