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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

Tell Gilead to Reduce the Cost of HIV Medications Now!

By Kevin Maloney

March 5, 2012

Referencing the latest figure from the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), as of February 23, 2012,  4,251 individuals across 11 states are on the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) waitlist. These are individuals who are uninsured or underinsured who have received an HIV+ diagnosis, and are unable to properly attain the drugs they need to remain alive, healthy and productive.

In support of the following letter sent to Gilead from the Fair Pricing Coalition, and signed by individual members, the FPC outlines its concerns, and requests specific actions be taken by Gilead. Any interested individual or organization is welcomed, and encouraged to sign on. Please share WIDELY across your networks:

It is essential that Gilead understand the negative impact of their actions on people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs). Since 2009, Gilead has raised prices three times each for Viread and Truvada for a total of 22.1% and 24.5% respectively; twice for Emtriva for a total of 15.3%,and agreed to four price increases on for Atripla, totaling 21%, and agreed to a 7.3% price increase for Complera. These increases are dramatically higher than the rate of inflation. They also come at a time when many people with HIV have lost their jobs, their employer-based insurance coverage and, in many instances, their ADAP coverage, all resulting in desperate patients attempting to access HIV drugs on the open market, a market plagued with constantly increasing drug prices.

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As U.S. economic stagnation persists, PLWHAs continue to lose jobs, income, health care benefits and ADAP coverage. At the same time, third party payers are imposing higher premiums as a direct result of escalating drug prices. Some patients have abruptly stopped treatment because they can no longer afford their medications. Although PAPs exist to help people who cannot afford medication, barriers to access are significant. Many people are unaware of the existence of PAPs. Others cannot cope with the labyrinth of multiple forms and requirements. Even with Gilead's PAP eligibility at 500% of the Federal Poverty Level, a PLWHA earning $56,000.00 annually is not PAP eligible and will have to pay $20,000.00 or more to purchase Atripla at retail prices. This figure represents at least two-thirds of their net income.

The pharmaceutical industry's extravagant price increases reverberate throughout the healthcare industry. They come at a time when many ADAPs are covering private insurance payments for their clients and result in ADAPs paying significantly increased premiums as a result of exorbitant price increases. This policy also results in higher premiums for people with HIV who are insured at a time when more and more people have less and less income due to unemployment, underemployment, reduced wages and reduced hours. Moreover, higher healthcare costs mean higher co-pays and pharmacy deductibles for people with private insurance and high share-of-cost plans which also result in increased costs to patients as well as decreased benefits. More restrictive access within insurance plans affects the cost of drugs, but also ancillary services, such as mental health, prevention healthcare, rehabilitation and substance abuse services.

Escalating costs for private and employee healthcare plans occasioned by continuous drug pricing increases will undoubtedly have a deleterious effect on the states as they design their health care exchanges in preparation for the 2014 implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Many states are likely to set a minimum standard for drug coverage for their "essential health benefits" package that requires only limited coverage of antiretrovirals and other higher cost drug classes. Additionally, with non-preferred generic antiretrovirals entering the marketplace we are concerned that higher drug prices will increasingly result in key coverage decisions being driven by cost rather than the standard of care for HIV treatment.

Much of this crisis is occasioned by irresponsible pharmaceutical industry behavior. We firmly believe that Gilead's price increases are particularly egregious because Gilead currently has the lion's share of the antiretroviral market.

We believe that the best way to begin to address these issues is for industry to change its price increase practices and agree to the following:

  • Gilead must agree to take no more than one CPI consistent price increase annually.
  • Gilead must use its sales force to disseminate information regarding its PAP and co-pay programs.
  • Gilead must contribute to foundations that provide co-pay program access to Medicare Part D clients.
  • Gilead must cooperate with the FPC and other stakeholders in designing and implementing a seamless, industry-wide standardized PAP criteria and enrollment process.

Now is the time for Gilead to reconsider its price increase policy and rescind its latest unreasonable price increases. The FPC, its members and the undersigned sincerely hope that Gilead will agree to the above and we look forward to your immediate response.

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See Also
More Viewpoints on HIV Drug Pricing and Pharmaceutical Company News

Reader Comments:

Comment by: Anonymous Tue., Apr. 3, 2012 at 6:32 pm EDT
One of the Biggest problems in the fight against HIV is cost of Drugs related to treatment. Lack of affordable generics available to patients in the USA.
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Comment by: David G (Minneapolis) Tue., Apr. 3, 2012 at 5:45 pm EDT
I have been living with HIV for 30+ years now and my co-pays with my employer have risen from $10 for the single AZT prescription to the current 3 meds I am told to take together and I am now paying a wopping $668.63 copay. To add to this.. I firmly believe that these meds contributed to my receint heat attack which adds more meds to the list and an an additional copay $193.18.
Yes, I have health insurance - the top tier my company offers.. and I have been financially able to make ends meet till this year... I am now headed for the red, and my energy level to keep up this fight is weaking. The many avenues I have been down all tell me I make to much money and to qualify and my income needs to be below poverty level. Yes, how fortunate for me to survive HIV for 30 years, but man... what about the younger ones who need these meds... The future looks bleek for America.. Will only the rich will survive?

To think... my copays have now exceeded my house payment... Somehow someway a cure needs to be found or these meds need to be made affordable for everyone who needs them.
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Comment by: Mark (Uk) Mon., Mar. 19, 2012 at 2:17 pm EDT
This is appalling , everybody has the right to life sustaining drugs , insurance or not , what gives somebody the right to play god with other peoples life , as I world leader the us is the most backward country in the world when it comes to taking care of its people , it's amazes me how money comes before people , disgraceful USA
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Comment by: john (glasgow) Mon., Mar. 19, 2012 at 1:58 pm EDT
greedy fukin cunts. your company and the other pharma companies should be taken out of ur hands and nationalised. Making profit out of peoples illness is inhuman. heres hoping for a swift change in ur policies or a colapse in ur shares.
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Comment by: michael (los angeles) Tue., Mar. 6, 2012 at 12:47 am EST
i notice that you guys didn't post my post about viraday on the other blog.....does it conflict with this site's advertisement contract with gilead? viraday (generic atripla) can be found as low as under $200 dollars overseas while atripla in this country cost about $1400-$1600 and continues to rise.....should americans start to lobby to find our healthcare offshore?
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Kevin Maloney

Kevin Maloney

Random things about me: I am kind, caring, respectful and wanting to make a difference/impact in the World. I've been to Australia, New Zealand and 13 countries in Europe, and have traveled and lived all over the United States. I have a Bachelor's degree in Health Services Management and will be working towards my Master's In Public Health. I am an uncle of two of the MOST adorable girls in the World, and have one brother. I am a Momma's boy, and it is hard to see my mother's health in such a deteriorated state -- she has severe COPD (from 40 years of smoking). In March 2010 I was told that I have HIV and a month later, with follow-up labs, was then told I also acquired hepatitis C (not through IV drug use). I aspire to great things. Stay tuned.

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