Price of AIDS Drug Norvir Soars
December 18, 2003
On Dec. 4, the price of widely used protease inhibitor Norvir leapt by 500 percent, to $8.50 per day for 100 milligrams, confirmed Abbott spokesperson Laureen Cassidy. The increase will help to pay for technology that has developed a Norvir tablet that does not need refrigeration, said Cassidy.Adapted from:
Norvir is prescribed by many doctors specifically to boost other drugs, which it does by allowing viral suppressors to stay in the body for a longer period of time. About 80 percent of people on the drug use a small booster dose of 100-200 milligrams per day, said Cassidy.
State AIDS Drug Assistance Programs will not be affected, and Abbott has changed its own assistance program to allow patients without insurance or ADAP to receive Norvir free, regardless of income, Cassidy said. Many Medicaid programs also have built-in guards against price increases.
"Compare the cost of $8.50 per day to the cost of most other protease inhibitors, which run $20-$30 a day," Cassidy said.
AIDS advocates, however, worry that the increase will hurt patients from all economic backgrounds. If 80 percent of patients were paying $1.71-$3.42 per pill per day before the increase, the increase could mean up to a $200 increase each month for patients on lower doses.
"I don't understand how they can justify a price increase on this scale," said Lei Chou, director of the access project at the AIDS Treatment Data Network in New York. Chou speculated that the increase is to keep more people on Abbott's AIDS drug Kaletra, a pill combination including Norvir. As Abbott has refused to license others to develop drug co-formulations combining Norvir, Chou said, many doctors looking for cost effectiveness would likely prescribe Kaletra.
Chou and advocates from Project Inform and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation are planning to organize with community groups to protest Norvir's price increase.
Bay Area Reporter
12.11.03; Zak Szymanski
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.