January 21, 2008
San Francisco and Baltimore -- The Fair Pricing Coalition (FPC), an ad-hoc community based group that works to constrain the price of drugs for HIV and HCV, today announced its support for the approval and announced price of Tibotec's new drug Intelence (etravirine). The drug is an important and effective agent for the treatment of patients with multi- class resistance to previous antivirals. It joins four other new drugs recently released for such patients, making it possible for them to renew their fight against HIV with a whole arsenal of new and potent drugs.
Martin Delaney of the FPC said, "What's striking about this approval is that Tibotec has shown real leadership by pricing Intelence at $21.80 per day (Wholesale Acquisition Cost), several dollars a day less than any of the other new drugs approved for this use. Other drugs approved for similar use range in price from about $26 to over $30 a day. It shows a real sensitivity to the otherwise growing problem of high drug prices."
Lynda Dee of the FPC added, "Tibotec worked hard with us to make sure this drug didn't add to the overwhelming problems being caused by outrageous drug pricing. Because of their smart move on pricing, which undercuts all the competition, formularies should quickly offer the drug without hesitation. People with resistant virus now have a number of good choices but for the first time they also have the ability to choose a very good drug that costs less than the alternatives."
The FPC, which tracks prices of new and existing drugs for HIV, pointed out that the overall cost of treatment has been rising in recent years, both because of the cost of new drugs and because of price increases announced annually for existing drugs. Bristol Myers Squibb, for example, last week increased the prices of all the drugs in its HIV portfolio by 6.9 to nine percent, the highest increases seen in recent years.
Delaney said, "We've been arguing for years that this escalation in drug prices is unjustified and has to stop. The overall cost of health care skyrockets annually and is causing more and more people to go without health insurance. While drug prices are only part of the problem, they are one of the parts that we can do something about. We applaud Tibotec for showing real understanding of the problems of the health care system and realizing that fair pricing is also good business."
Dee added a cautionary note, "We really hope now that the market rewards Tibotec for making this smart strategic move. We hear all the time from drug companies that 'payers don't care about drug prices.' We think that is false and believe that companies that set fair prices will get a larger share of market. While we are pleased with Tibotec's price today, we wish it were even lower. We have requested that the company make further reductions in the price it charges government payers. Most importantly, we hope that other companies will see this bold move as a signal that the days of price escalation are over."
Patient advocacy groups generally recognize Tibotec as a "best practices" model in its relations with the patient community. The FPC agrees with this view and congratulates Tibotec Therapeutics President Glenn Mattes for the courage and leadership he has shown by confronting the problem of drug pricing. There is every reason to expect that Intelence will be both successful and profitable.
The Fair Pricing Coalition is an ad hoc group of community-based activists who work on drug pricing issues with pharmaceutical companies in the field of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. A much larger group of AIDS and hepatitis organizations and concerned individuals participate in the FPC through consensus statements and petitions. The overall goal of the Fair Pricing Coalition is to stop the upward creep in the cost of drugs.
The core group of the FPC consists of experienced activists, all of whom wear multiple hats and typically speak for their own parent organizations as well as on behalf of the FPC. Many are also members of ATAC (the AIDS Treatment Activists Coalition) and some are people who advocate on behalf of federal support programs, such as the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). Some members are physicians who speak on behalf of providers. Almost all are members of various community advisory boards and non-profit organizations that meet with the pharmaceutical industry on a range of topics. The focus of the FCP is drug pricing and how it impacts patients, public and private payers, and providers. The core group meets with and coordinates discussions over pricing with individual pharmaceutical companies.