Uh Oh: Gilead’s New HIV Drug – Costing $28,500 a Year – Draws Fire From Activists
Let the battle begin. As soon as Gilead Sciences (GILD) announced that the price for its newly approved Stribild HIV medication – a once-daily combination pill – would be $28,500 annually, some AIDS activists threatened to take action to find a way to lower the cost. Now, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation is angling to place a referendum in front of San Francisco voters to require city officials to hold talks with drugmakers about pricing for ‘essential medicines.’
“We have a financial crisis in our country. Even as we’re counting down to implement the Affordable Care Act, we see rationing for HIV patients over the last several years,” AHF president Michael Weinstein told a media teleconfence call yesterday. “…The cost is totally unsustainable… And the net effect of this pricing is, basically, a future bankruptcy of the AIDS Drug Assistance Programs.”
Also known as ADAPs, these state programs provide meds to those with limited means, but are under financial pressure thanks to the recession. As of August 9, there were 1,125 individuals on ADAP waiting lists in seven states, according to the National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors. This is a 63 percent drop from April. Nonetheless, 21 ADAPs, including seven with current waiting lists, have instituted additional cost-cutting steps over the past three years and two ADAPs are considering new or additional measures by March 2013 (read here).
Such concerns earlier this month prompted 14 Democratic members of Congress to write Gilead (GILD) to caution the drugmaker about Stribild pricing. They noted that, while Gilead froze prices through 2013 for drugs provided to ADAPs, the drugmaker boosted prices for its meds in the commercial market, which could cause Ryan White Part B-funded co-pays and deductibles to rise and leave less funding available for ADAP (covered in previous Pharma news).
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