Cheaper AZT on the Way
September 21, 2005
In July, drugmakers in China, India, and Africa began preparations to make generic forms of AZT, the GlaxoSmithKline drug that lost its patent protection Saturday. Generic AZT is expected to cost about $105 per patient annually, 20 percent less than the cheapest AZT now available. GSK's charges $3,893.64 wholesale for a year's supply of Retrovir, the only AZT available in the United States.
Since 1987 when it entered the market, Retrovir has generated about $4 billion in sales, according to GSK financial reports. However, GSK does not anticipate generic AZT will affect its revenues, since it will not change the price of Combivir and Trizivir, two newer GSK drugs containing AZT.
For developing countries, generic AZT should make available treatments cheaper. Two weeks ago, the Food and Drug Administration tentatively approved the Indian firm Aurobindo Pharma's generic AZT; this permitted its use in the U.S. global AIDS initiative but not in U.S. markets. FDA declined to report on how many firms are applying for approval.
The U.S. impact of generic AZT depends on how much cheaper it will be than Retrovir, said Steve Sherman, coordinator for North Carolina's AIDS Drug Assistance Program. Many state ADAPs lack money to assist all who apply. North Carolina's ADAP serves about 800 people, but another 200 are on its waiting list. "Any nickel we're able to save on one drug allows us to serve more clients and provide more medication," said Sherman.
News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)
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