Policy & Politics
Hearing on Drug Reimportation to Include Discussion of Abbott's Pricing of Antiretroviral Norvir
April 14, 2004
Federal officials, HIV/AIDS groups and consumer advocates on Wednesday at a hearing focusing on drug reimportation plan to discuss the pricing of Abbott Laboratories' antiretroviral drug Norvir, which has "quite suddenly become a touchstone in these swirling debates," the New York Times reports (Harris, New York Times, 4/14). In December 2003, Abbott increased by 400% -- 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. On Feb. 6, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) announced that her office had opened an investigation into whether the price increase of Norvir was designed to increase the price of antiretroviral drug combinations that use Norvir as a booster and steer patients toward Abbott's newer antiretroviral drug Kaletra. Kaletra, which does not need a booster for other protease inhibitors because it includes ritonavir, costs about $18.78 per patient per day, or $563.40 per patient per month, and has a longer patent life (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/19). Currently, consumers at a drugstore in the United States would pay $715 for a one-month supply of 200 mg Norvir pills, compared with $540 from the Web site Drugstore.com and $59 at a drugstore in Canada, the Times reports. Dr. John Leonard, Abbott's vice president of drug development, said, "To continue the work in HIV and other therapeutic areas, we decided the appropriate thing to do to resource our program was to make up our losses with the price increase" (New York Times, 4/14).
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.
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