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Sign-On Letter Demands That Pharmaceutical Companies Lower Cost Of AIDS Drugs

November 26, 1996

We realize that access to new and promising drugs and support for the programs that provide that access must remain at the center of our agenda. However, the astronomical prices of the new regimens makes that work more difficult. The Ad-Hoc Coalition for Drug Pricing developed the attached sign-on letter to demand that major pharmaceutical companies address these issues of cost. We invite you to join us and sign on to this letter by faxing the fax back sheet below by COB, December 5.

An Open Letter To Glaxo Wellcome, Hoffman-Laroche, Abbott Laboratories, Merck & Company, Agouron Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, Amgen, Inc., Genentech, Serono Laboratories, Bio-Technology Group, Boeringer Ingelheim/Roxane, Gilead Sciences, Astra, Smithkline Beecham, Pharmacia & Upjohn, Parke-Davis, Miles Inc. Pharmaceuticals, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Syntex Laboratories Inc., Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Ortho-Biotech, Schering Plough, Sandfi Winthrop, Fujisawa, Sequus, And Vestar

We, the undersigned organizations, demand that the pharmaceutical industry take the following steps to help end the crisis in access to life-saving prescription HIV/AIDS drugs:

  1. Glaxo-Wellcome must immediately rescind their 2.9% price increase for the drugs AZT, 3TC and Zovirax. AZT, 3TC, and Zovirax are, by most estimations, already the most profitable drugs in the history of the AIDS epidemic. A recent article in The Economist estimated that AZT alone has made $2.3 billion since approval.


  2. All manufacturers of drugs for HIV and AIDS, particularly those making protease inhibitors and expensive drugs to treat opportunistic infections, must immediately reevaluate the prices of their respective drugs taking into consideration the impossible burden that prescription drug prices are placing on people living with HIV/AIDS and the assistance programs that serve them - primarily Medicaid and the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP).

  3. In keeping with the concerns expressed in #2, we demand that all manufacturers of drugs provided through AIDS Drug Assistance Programs offer to those programs at the Public Health Service/MEDICAID price. While large programs in high incidence states have had great success in negotiating for these lower prices, other states with fewer patients are known to pay average wholesale price which can have a dramatic impact on the number of patients the programs are capable of serving.

  4. The pharmaceutical industry must provide children and pregnant women with real access to new HIV combination therapies. HIV/AIDS drugs recently approved by the FDA for adults have not been approved for children or pregnant women. Since the Omnibus Reconciliation Bill of 1996 (HR 3610) calls for a report on initiatives by the industry to expedite clinical trials for pregnant women and children with HIV/AIDS by December 31, 1996, we demand that the industry implement such initiatives and extend the use of their products to all people infected with HIV.

The sad reality is that our fractured health care system is unable to bear the current cost of drugs. Limitations on access are everywhere, in both public and private insurance programs. These include impossibly low prescription drug caps, restricted formularies, unreasonably high prescription co-payments and burdensome prior authorization procedures. This cost squeeze is escalating, at a time when people with HIV and AIDS need access to more, and more costly, prescription drugs than ever - if they want to stay alive. It truly is an emergency. Hundreds of thousands of lives are at stake, and as a result, caring about questions of access must become standard business practice.

AIDS advocacy organizations will continue to fight for full access to prescription drugs. We have fought many successful battles against restrictive formularies. The success in securing increased ADAP funding was a result of the efforts of many in the community, in industry and in government and is a primary example of the advantage of working together.

The pharmaceutical industry has unique power to assist lowering drug prices, thus dramatically improving access to drugs. Price reductions are undeniably necessary. Without them, congressional hearings on this issue may be unavoidable.

We hope that the pharmaceutical industry will work with us to end the current drug access crisis.


(sign your name)

Pharmaceutical Sign-On Letter Fax Back Sheet

Fax To Tonia Dickerson, Aids Action : (202) 986-1345

Please sign my organization, clinic, practice on to the drug pricing letter to be distributed to drug company executives.

** Deadline for sign-on, December 5, 1996 **


Individual contact:



[Paid for with contributions from AIDS Action Council Network Members]

For more information, contact:
AIDS Action Council
1875 Connecticut Avenue NW #700
Washington DC 20009
202-986-1300, extension 3053
202-986-1345 (fax)
202-332-9614 (tty)

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This article was provided by AIDS Action Council.