April 27, 2004
Abbott, Shareholder Response
Dr. Jeffrey Leiden, president and CEO of Abbott's pharmaceutical group, told shareholders that the company knows of no patients who have been unable to access the drug under the new pricing policy, according to the Tribune. The company froze prices for individuals covered by government assistance programs, including Medicaid beneficiaries, who represent 54% of Norvir patients, the Tribune reports. The company also said it provides financial assistance to HIV-positive patients and has made the drug available free-of-charge to the 4% of Norvir users who do not have insurance (Chicago Tribune, 4/24). In addition, private insurers continue to cover the drug, and copayments have not risen, Leiden said, adding that 42% of patients who use Norvir have private health insurance (Chicago Sun-Times, 4/24). Shareholders "resoundingly supported" Abbott management and defeated several resolutions supported by religious groups, including one proposed by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility that called on the company to assess the epidemic's effects on the company's business to determine how much the company was spending in relation to its bottom line, according to the Tribune. About 8% of shareholders supported the proposal, which was a high enough percentage to allow the center to bring the proposal back up at next year's meeting (Chicago Tribune, 4/24).
The federal government should "exercise" its right to "advance the sale of cheaper generic versions of any drugs that federal research dollars helped develop," including Norvir, a Rochester Democrat & Chronicle editorial says. U.S. patients this year will pay $7,000 for a year's supply of Norvir, compared with $720 a year in Belgium, the editorial says. But the "bill for research and development costs, as well as the drug industry's plentiful profits, falls squarely on the United States' shoulders," the editorial says. As a result, U.S. seniors are "struggl[ing] with drug payments," insurance costs for prescription drugs are "skyrocket[ing]" and local governments are becoming severely burdened by health care costs, the editorial says. The government therefore must work with pharmaceutical companies to "make the pricing of drugs fairer," the editorial says (Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, 4/26).
Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2004 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.