Six State ADAPs Join Together To Press for Cheaper AIDS Drugs
Officials from the six biggest AIDS Drug Assistance Programs in the country are planning to meet with drug manufacturers in March to press for additional rebates on AIDS medications, the Wall Street Journal reports. While ADAPs -- which are state-managed, federally funded programs that offer antiretroviral drugs to low-income people who lack health insurance -- have traditionally "fended for [themselves]" in price negotiations with drug companies, officials from California, New York, Texas, Florida, Illinois and New Jersey have decided to "bring unity" to the discussions, hoping to secure lower drug prices for all 56 of the nation's ADAPs, according to the Journal. The new initiative will focus on securing price concessions not just for new drugs, which previous negotiations had focused on, but for all AIDS drugs. The ADAPs have invited Roche, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Pfizer, Abbott Laboratories and Bristol-Myers Squibb to attend the meetings. Program officials are particularly interested in discussing pricing options for Roche's new antiretroviral drug Fuzeon, which is designed for HIV-positive patients who have failed to respond to other medications (McGinley, Wall Street Journal, 2/28). Roche earlier this week announced that Fuzeon will cost $20,385 per year in Europe, more than double the price of the most expensive AIDS treatments on the market (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/24). While Roche has not announced the U.S. price for the drug, many patient advocates fear that the drug will be too costly for ADAPs to offer. Roche is already involved in separate discussions with state officials and AIDS groups over the price of the drug, which is expected to get FDA approval next month. "We'll be working to put together the best package [of prices] for all payers," a Roche spokesperson said. States have become "increasingly aggressive" in seeking to control the rising cost of the drugs despite drug company claims that such cost-containment strategies are illegal. Despite a price freeze last year by several drug manufacturers, budget cuts and the increasing number of people needing assistance have forced many states to restrict eligibility or to create waiting lists for the programs. Nearly 700 people in twelve states are currently waiting to enroll in ADAPs. The programs currently serve 80,000 people -- 30% of the U.S. AIDS drugs market (Wall Street Journal, 2/28).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.