Policy & Politics
House Committee Considers Holding Hearings to Investigate Pricing of Abbott's Antiretroviral Norvir
March 15, 2007
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is considering holding hearings to investigate the pricing of Abbott Laboratories' antiretroviral drug Norvir, an unnamed committee staffer said recently, The Hill reports. The staffer said that the committee -- which is chaired by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) -- has examined the issue during the current legislative session but that he could not say when the hearings would occur if the committee votes to proceed with them. Abbott spokesperson Melissa Brotz said that the company is "cooperating with the inquiry" (Mikhail, The Hill, 3/14). In December 2003, Abbott quadrupled 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. The cost of Norvir increased from $51.30 for 30 100mg capsules to $257.10 for 30 100mg capsules, or by $5,000 more annually (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/3). Some lawmakers and HIV/AIDS advocates said that the price increase was unreasonable because Norvir was developed using federal funds, according to The Hill. Abbott said that the decision to increase the drug's price was intended to help the drugmaker continue its work in HIV/AIDS medications and other areas. Six House members -- including Reps. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.) and Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) -- in April 2004 sent a letter to then House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chair Joe Barton (R-Tex.) asking that the committee investigate the issue. According to an unnamed staffer, Barton did not conduct any hearings in response to the letter.
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. © 2007 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.
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