AHF Targets HIV Drug Prices in the U.S., India
In wake of the FDA’s decision to approve Pfizer’s first-in-class HIV drug Selzentry, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has called on Pfizer and other drug companies to “show some restraint” when setting the prices of HIV medications.
Pfizer announced this week that it will launch the newly approved Selzentry in mid-September. Selzentry (maraviroc), a CCR5 co-receptor antagonist, is approved to treat adults infected with detectable CCR5-tropic HIV-1 when there is evidence of viral replication and HIV-1 strains resistant to multiple antiretroviral agents.
According to the AHF, Pfizer’s planned price for Selzentry of $29 per patient per day is too high. “While we are excited by the treatment possibilities this drug offers, we have serious concerns on the price of this drug, and we ask that it be priced fairly so that people in need of such lifesaving medicines may actually benefit from them,” AHF President Michael Weinstein said.
A growing number of people in the U.S. with HIV or AIDS has placed a burden on the healthcare system, including the state-run AIDS Drug Assistance Programs, which are funded by the federal Ryan White CARE Act, the AHF said. The 2007 federal budget included only minor funding increases — not enough to keep up with the growing need, according to the AHF.
“Given the enormous profit that pharmaceutical companies reap by selling medications to government programs — by far the largest purchasers of drugs in this country — it is incumbent that drug companies work to help ensure that AIDS patients who are not able to access medications due to state and federal funding gaps still have access to such lifesaving treatments,” Weinstein said. “Fair and equitable pricing of these drugs from the outset is one way to achieve this goal.”
A Pfizer spokesman say that the company disagrees with the AHF’s allegations that the Selzentry price is too high, adding the price is comparable to the prices of other HIV drugs, such as protease inhibitors. “We feel that Selzentry is an innovation in the treatment of HIV and provides clinical benefit to patients,” he said.