Firms to Help Buy HIV Drug
March 17, 2003
Trimeris Inc. and Roche Holding AG said Friday they will take unusual steps to help patients afford their Fuzeon medication, the most costly and complicated HIV drug to reach the market.Adapted from:
"For every patient who receives a prescription, we will provide reimbursement specialists, who work with the patients and their caregivers to seek out all forms of reimbursement," said George Abercrombie, head of Roche's U.S. pharmaceutical unit. Some may get Fuzeon free, he said.
State and federally funded programs that cover therapies for about 70 percent of patients in treatment "are all falling apart right now," said Lei Chou, director of the access project at the AIDS Treatment Data Network. "In order for any of the programs to add Fuzeon, they are going to have to juggle."
Trimeris and Roche plan within days to start U.S. sales of Fuzeon, whose manufacturing process takes 106 steps, 10 times more than for most medications. To formulate it, 36 amino acids are threaded one by one to create a fragile chain. Trimeris CEO Dani Bolognesi said he knew that drug makers generally want simpler compounds that can be made into pills. The Fuzeon molecule, which is larger and more complex, must be injected and requires new production methods.
03.15.03; Kerry Dooley
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.