Infants diagnosed with West syndrome or infantile spasms require rapid treatment of injectable drug Synacthen Depot, which works 90 percent of the time according to doctors. However, Synacthen Depot had a recent massive price hike of over 2,000 percent per vial.

Following the price hike from $33.05 to $680 a vial, Canada's Alberta Health delisted the drug in July which means it will no longer be covered by the country's government-subsidized healthcare system in general but the drug could still be provided on a case-to-case basis. A full six-week drug treatment cost $14,280. The price hike came with very little warning and left many families and doctors enraged.

Irish drug company Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals owns the right to sell Synacthen Depot in Canada. As a genetic drug, the government review board can no longer control price increase leaving health officials in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia hit hard by the price hike. Mallinckrodt expressed that manufacturing changes caused the price increase, however, the company has yet to respond to requests inquiring about the specific details leading to the price hike.

"When Mallinckrodt acquired Questcor in 2014, Synacthen Depot was one of the products in the portfolio. It was losing money then and still is. Moreover, in the spring of 2014, Mallinckrodt was told by the existing supplier of the product that they would cease production in early 2016," wrote a spokesman for Mallinckrodt in an email statement.

Health experts are concerned that the price hike is just a forerunner of more price hikes in the future. Canadian pediatric neurologist Dr. Carter Snead expressed that this won't be the last time a price hike this high would take place. He stressed the need for a system that employ strict regulations among drug manufacturer on price increases, rates that wouldn't go beyond the consumer price index.

West syndrome or infantile spasms is a rare form of epilepsy among infants who show irregular bursts of electrical activity in the brain as shown via electroencephalogram or EEG. It causes infants to bow forward and backward during seizures. The syndrome is named after a general practitioner named Dr. W.J. West who first described the condition in 1841 when his four-month-old son showed the syndrome's characteristics. 

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