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Price increase of Norvir
Dec 18, 2003

I'm sure you are well aware of the price increase Abbott has announced for Norvir. What do you think the effect will be on HIV research? Some activist have stated that research relating to boosted PI regimens will decreased, since it will not be cost prohibited for companies to offer boosted PI medications. Do you agree or is this just an overstatement? Do you think this price increase will remain or do you think it will result in a disaster for management? Thanks

Response from Dr. Young

Like many of my peers, I found the price increase shocking and offensive. I think that there are many potential ramifications of such unjustifiable price increases.

Here's an excerpt from a letter that I wrote to Abbott today that summarizes my position:

"In an era of ever shrinking finanical support for HIV medications in our communities and an era of the significant Abbott product penetration, I find that the 400-500% increase in the cost of Novir is offensive and a direct assault on the freedom of patients to access their best possible treatment options.

The impact of this price increase is that the direct and indirect costs of medications and care for persons with HIV will increase; that patients may forgo treatment because of increases in copayments and ultimately, patients may be forced to choose medications, not on the basis of efficacy, but on cost.

Abbott's HIV division has profits that approach $500 million USD this year; if anything, these revenues should be invested back into the patient community and drug discovery.

It is clear to me that the increase in price, while perhaps legal, is a thinnly veiled anti-competive move to preserve Kaletra market share, in a time when two new products offer patients alternatives. This magnitude of price increase is by no means supported by any rational review of costs of manufacturing medications, nor increase in the consumer price index, nor matched in return by Abbott Laboratories in terms of publically presented drug discovery or support for AIDS service organizations.

To receive academic or financial support from Abbott Laboratories would be an insult to the many patients who this decision so grately impacts. I am so deeply offended by your company's position that: --I rescind any offer to lecture on behalf of Abbott Laboratories --I will not attend any further Abbott-sponsored advisory board --I will not see any Abbott representative in my office --I withdraw my interest in any Abbott-supported investigator-initiated research projects --I will notify as many persons as possible of my position

In remedy of this situation, I strongly encourage you and your company to seriously consider the impact that your pricing decision has on the HIV community and reconsider the ritonavir price increase.

Benjamin Young, MD PhD"

Thanks for reading. BY



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