Thursday, September 3, 2009

Advocacy Group: Merck "Price Gouging" With Its HIV Drug Isentress®?

Arriving in mailboxes around New Jersey this week, is the flyer at right -- click to enlarge. Here is the story:

. . . .As part of its ongoing campaign to lower drug prices and increase access, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) today unveiled its latest advocacy campaign challenging Merck and Co. Pharmaceuticals over the steep price of its key HIV/AIDS drug, Isentress® (raltegravir). The first phase of the public awareness campaign includes a postcard mailer, scheduled to arrive this week in the mailboxes of residents of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, where Merck is headquartered. The front of the postcard features a mock “Wanted” poster with an artist rendering of Merck CEO Richard T. Clark pictured beneath the headline: “WANTED: Criminal AIDS Drug Pricing.”

The back of the postcard explains: “Richard T. Clark, CEO of Merck & Co. Pharmaceuticals, is wanted for pricing Merck’s HIV/AIDS drug Isentress so high that it is now the most expensive first-line HIV/AIDS drug. Recently approved by the FDA as a first-line treatment, Isentress is up to three times more expensive than other first-line treatments -- as much as $12,864 per patient per year. This criminal pricing threatens to limit the ability of Medicaid and AIDS Drug Assistance programs nationwide to provide crucial lifesaving drugs to its patients.”

“It is criminal for Merck to have priced its newest HIV/AIDS drug, Isentress at an astronomical $12,864 per patient per year—especially now that the FDA has approved the drug for first-line use, vastly increasing the drug’s market,” said Michael Weinstein, AIDS Healthcare Foundation President. “AHF has repeatedly requested that Merck lower the price of Isentress so that more patients will be able to access it. Merck has refused to do so. Cash-strapped ADAP and Medicaid programs will go bankrupt if these government programs -- and the taxpayers who fund them -- are forced to continue subsidizing the cost of new medicines like Isentress that are priced unjustifiably high. . . .”

We'll keep you posted.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The proposed cut off for comparative efficacy / cost analyses has been in the $6000 - $8000 per year range. At this level of $500 - $667 per month the antipsychotics would be excluded. Even though the some of the newer ones such as Abilify ODT (apripiprazole) have average wholesale prices (AWP) of just under $500 per month. Oral Disintegrating Tablets (ODTs) are often marketed toward children.

(see the Pfizer Geodon settlement

Plus have 90% of their costs paid for by Medicaid/Medicare.

(Remember asenapine WAS a Pfizer drug).