Politics & Policy
Bipartisan Group of Senators Call for FTC Investigation of Norvir Price Increase
May 20, 2004
A bipartisan group of senators on Wednesday called for a Federal Trade Commission investigation of Abbott Laboratories' decision to increase by 400% the price of its antiretroviral drug Norvir, Reuters reports (Heavey, Reuters, 5/19). In December 2003, Abbott increased from $54 per month to $265 per month the per-patient wholesale price of Norvir, which is known generically as ritonavir. Norvir is used primarily as a booster for other protease inhibitors, such as Bristol-Myers Squibb's Reyataz and Merck's Crixivan (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/13). Senate Commerce Committee Chair John McCain (R-Ariz.) in a statement said it would be "unconscionable if drug manufacturers are taking such unscrupulous actions to maximize their bottom line at the expense of patients suffering with AIDS." Sens. Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) also called for an FTC investigation. "Abbott's actions not only put the marketplace at risk, but more importantly, impact the medical options that the sickest people need for a hope of survival," Hollings, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said. Abbott spokesperson Jennifer Smoter said that the "repricing action was entirely lawful" and that FTC had not yet contacted the company (Reuters, 5/19). "It is now clear that outrage over Abbott's actions on Norvir is not just partisan politics by AIDS activists and their supporters but a bipartisan response by respected Washington legislators to clear cut antitrust abuses by Abbott," AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein said (AHF release, 5/20).
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