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U.S. News

California Pressures Bristol-Myers Squibb on Cost of AIDS Drug

August 3, 2010

In the last decade, the number of clients seeking help from California's AIDS Drug Assistance Program has grown by 60 percent. Concurrently, ADAP's spending on drugs has ballooned by almost 200 percent, from $302 for each antiretroviral prescription a decade ago to $583 per prescription today. Now state officials are calling on one drug company in particular, Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), to help control drug costs.

BMS products account for about 30 percent of all California ADAP drug purchases. One of the most expensive and most commonly used is Reyataz, which costs $13,046 per year wholesale, according to the state controller's office.

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Last month, Controller John Chiang wrote BMS asking it "to step up and join the other pharmaceutical companies that have found ways to reduce the cost of drugs to California."

Two-thirds of California's ADAP funding comes from the federal government or drug company rebates. The state contributes one-third, or about $71 million this year. Drug company rebates backfilled earlier state budget cuts to ADAP, but that probably will not be an option in future years, state officials said. Therefore, the state's proportion will be much larger next year.

BMS officials said they have no intention of giving AIDS patients the cold shoulder, citing the company's assistance programs. "We fully intend to respond directly to Controller Chiang," said BMS spokesperson Cristi Barnett. The company declined to speculate whether there would be price cuts on AIDS drugs.

Other drug makers -- Merck, Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, and Gilead -- have taken financial hits in order to help state ADAPs, said Michael Weinstein, president of Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation. That is not the case for BMS, he said.

Back to other news for August 2010

Adapted from:
Sacramento Bee
07.29.2010; Bobby Caina Calvan; Phillip Reese


  
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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.
 
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