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Deer Tick Drug’s Price Tag Skyrockets 18-Fold

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CBS Minnesota (con't)

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – If you’re just returning from a trip to the cabin, you know summer tick season is in full swing.

With that comes the threat of infection, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Minnesota is one of the leading states for tick infection.

Worse yet, shortages of a drug used to treat Lyme disease have caused prices to spike — ordinarily a cheap antibiotic now costs patients 18 times what it used to.

Small as a little period on a piece of paper, the deer tick can have big consequences.

“The risk period is mid-May to mid-July, and the highest risk is in wooded or brushy parts of the state,” the Minnesota Department of Health’s Dave Neitzel said.

Dr. Frank Rhame is an infectious disease expert with Abbott Northwestern Hospital.

He’s starting to see the first reports of Lyme disease.

“It’s a bacterial infection that is brought to us by our friendly ticks,” Rhame said.

Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, and in 60 percent of cases there will be a bull’s-eye rash that’s more than four centimeters.

The drug used to treat it is an antibiotic called doxycycline, which according to Allina Health, costs 18 times what it used to because of the shortage.

Doxycycline is also used to treat some sexually transmitted diseases, acne and pneumonia.

While pharmaceutical companies list different reasons for the shortage, Rhame said one of the common reasons listed is because the FDA has been cracking down on quality regulations, resulting in the complete shutdown of some factories.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar sent a letter to the FDA Commissioner just days ago urging the FDA to take all the necessary steps to alleviate the shortage.

But that may not take place before the season ends.

To be proactive, spray your clothes with repellants that contain DEET and an ingredient called permetherin, which will actually kill the ticks.

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