In the last year, many treatments have become available that have the potential of substantially improving the standard of care for many hundreds of thousands of people living with HIV. The concept of combination therapy and the introduction of the proteease inhibitors have created important new reasons for hope in our community. Unfortunately, myriad dysfunctions in America's health care delivery system have conspired to make these new therapies, and the care necessary to administer them properly, unavailable to an ever growing percentage of people with HIV disease.
This year, historic collaborations built on aggressive advocacy by members of Congress, federal, state and local officials, AIDS advocates, and the pharmaceutical industry have created new opportunities for improving access to care by working together towards common goals. They have prevented the block granting of Medicaid -- the provider of health care to the majority of people with AIDS, and improved access to new therapies through increased appropriations for the Ryan White CARE Act, the AIDS Drug Assistance Programs, and through advocacy that has created access to combination therapy with protease inhibitors to Medicaid recipients and to patients receiving care through the Veteran's Administration.
Unfortunately, these achievements are dwarfed by growing problems that make true access to care a growing nightmare for all patients with chronic disease across the country. And each of these problems is exacerbated by the breathtakingly high prices of AIDS drugs, especially the protease inhibitors. In the last two years, for example, the price for basic anti-viral therapy has risen from an average of $2,500 a year for a single drug to $12,000 to $20,000 for an average marketbasket of drugs that rise in price depending on disease stage.
While the pharmaceutical industry has been willing to help with many problems, especially problems that lead to the expansion of formularies or increased funding for programs that purchase drugs, they have refused to take steps to lower the costs of their drugs, and in at least one case -- Glaxo-Welcome -- has raised prices in the face of a burgeoning public health crisis.
The AIDS Treatment Data Network has worked in coalition with other AIDS advocacy organizations including AIDS Action Council, the Treatment Action Group, Project Inform, the Human Rights Campaign, the AIDS Policy Center for Children, Youth and Families, five chapters of ACT UP and other organizations to support a Halloween phone and fax-in to four companies regarding the pricing of their drugs.
ACTION: CALL ON THE COMPANIES TO DO THEIR PART IN ADDRESSING THIS URGENT PROBLEM
We are asking that all advocates for people with HIV join us in calling the CEOs of Abbott, Glaxo Wellcome, Hoffman-LaRoche and Merck demanding that they do their part in making their products more affordable and available to all who need them!
TO GLAXO WELLCOME:
Glaxo-Wellcome has raised the price of AZT and 3TC by 2.9% These are already the most profitable drugs in the history of the epidemic, AZT is estimated to have netted Glaxo-Wellcome $2.3 billion so far. Although the cost of the price increase may only be $150 per year for an individual, it will equate to several million dollars of ADAP and Medicaid money. GLAXO-WELLCOME MUST, AT MINIMUM, IMMEDIATELY REVERSE THE 2.9% INCREASE AND REEVALUATE THE PRICE OF ALL THEIR HIV MEDICATIONS!
Robert A. Ingram, President and CEO or Steve Skolsky, Vice President, Sales and Marketing:
(PH) 919/248-2100, (FX) 919/549-7459
TO ABBOTT AND HOFFMAN-LAROCHE:
The cost of protease inhibitors, all of which wholesale at more than $4,000 a year (and go up to over $7,000 in the case of Abbott's ritonavir) place an impossible burden upon people living with HIV/AIDS and the assistance programs that serve them, primarily Medicaid and the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). ABBOTT AND HOFFMAN LAROCHE MUST IMMEDIATELY LOWER THE PRICE OF THEIR PROTEASE INHIBITORS!
ABBOTT: Duane L. Burnham, Chair & CEO; Andre Pernet, VP Pharmaceutical research and Development:
(PH) 847/937-6100, (FX) 847/937-1511.
HOFFMAN LAROCHE: Patrick J. Zenner, President & CEO; Larry Prince, Manager of Marketing and Communications;
(PH) 201/235-5000, (FX) 201/562-2208.
The price of Crixivan is reasonable in comparison with its competitors. We believe that when the new production facilities are in full operation -- and we hope that this will happen soon -- MERCK WILL USE ECONOMIES OF SCALE TO LOWER THE PRICE OF CRIXIVAN.
MERCK: RAYMOND V. GILMARTIN, CEO:
Contact the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America lobbists
and let them know you won't stand for drug company price gouging.
Phone: (202) 835-3400
Fax: (202) 835 3414
Mail: 1100 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20005
see also: Consensus Statement on Drug Pricing
see recent activist discussions on: Despicable Pharmaceutical Profits
see more: Pharmaceutical Actions
BACK TO: Action Reports