State AIDS Drug Assistance Programs, NASTAD Negotiate Lower Price for Fuzeon With Roche
State AIDS Drug Assistance Programs that provide antiretroviral drugs to HIV/AIDS patients who cannot afford the medications have negotiated a "deeper discount" with pharmaceutical company Roche for its new drug Fuzeon, the Raleigh News & Observer reports (Ranii, Raleigh News & Observer, 3/29). The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, which also participated in the "first-of-their-kind" negotiations with eight major antiretroviral drug manufacturers, said that the negotiations had "mixed results." The meetings, which concluded on March 21, brought together ADAP representatives from California, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Texas -- states that collectively account for 70% of the more than $850 million in annual ADAP drug expenditures -- with representatives from Roche, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Pfizer, Abbott Laboratories, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Gilead Sciences and Bristol-Myers Squibb, to discuss ways of "alleviat[ing] the crisis" that state ADAPs are currently facing. Funding shortfalls have caused thirteen state ADAPs -- which are state-managed, federally funded programs that offer antiretroviral drugs to low-income people who lack health insurance -- to create waiting lists or tighten eligibility requirements, and several other programs anticipate having to do the same (NASTAD release, 3/27). While ADAPs have traditionally managed without assistance in price negotiations with drug companies, officials wanted to bring the groups together in hopes of securing price concessions for all antiretroviral drugs, not just for new drugs, which previous negotiations have focused on (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/28). Roche was the only company to come to a "satisfactory agreement" with the ADAPs, according to NASTAD (NASTAD release, 3/27). However, the size of the discount was not disclosed (Raleigh News & Observer, 3/29). Roche earlier this month announced that Fuzeon would cost approximately $20,000 a year, more than twice the price of the most expensive AIDS drugs on the market. While some have said that the cost will be prohibitive, the company has announced a "Progressive Distribution Program," which includes reimbursement assistance programs for patients who will not be able to afford the medication (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/21). "Roche stepped up to the plate to help us ensure that ADAP patients will have access to needed HIV therapies. ... Roche has proven to be a critical partner at the most difficult economic time our programs have faced," Michael Montgomery, chief of the California Office of AIDS, said.
Other Drug Companies To Continue Negotiations
Five other drug companies have decided to continue negotiations, which are expected to conclude by late next month. "We look forward to the conclusion of the ongoing negotiations as soon as possible. We intend to continue to seek national approaches and solutions on behalf of all ADAPs and hope that the other companies will be more responsive to the needs of ADAPs and the populations we serve in the very near future," Jean McGuire of the Massachusetts ADAP, said (NASTAD release, 3/27).