AHF: As Gilead Prepares to Price the ‘Quad,’ 20 California Legislators Say Aids Drug Pricing “Unsustainable”

  AHF: As Gilead Prepares to Price the ‘Quad,’ 20 California Legislators Say
  Aids Drug Pricing “Unsustainable”

 Twenty Members of the state legislature cosign a letter to Dr. Ron Chapman,
Director of California’s Department of Public Health, encouraging the State of
 California to, “ … employ all the levers of influence and authority that the
 government possesses, independently and in partnership with other states, to
       reduce the price of prescription drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS…”

Business Wire

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- August 18, 2012

AIDS Healthcare Foundation today lauded California Assemblymember Betsy Butler
(D, 53^rd Assembly District) for a letter she wrote—and which nineteen fellow
California state legislators cosigned—to Dr. Ron Chapman, Director of
California’s Department of Public Health in which the legislators expressed
concern about the rising costs of drugs to treat people with HIV/AIDS served
by California’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) and encouraged Chapman’s
department to, “…employ all the levers of influence and authority that the
government possesses, independently and in partnership with other states, to
reduce the price of prescription drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS and its
co-morbidities.”

Butler’s cosigners include: Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D, 13^th District);
Assemblymember Mariko Yamada (D, 8^th District); Assemblymember Das Williams
(D, 35^th District); Senator Ted Lieu (D, Torrance); Assemblymember Bob
Blumenfield (D, 40^th District); Assemblymember Toni Atkins (D, 76^th
District); Assemblymember Jim Beall (D, 24^th District); Assemblymember Marty
Block (D, 78^th District); Senator Elaine Alquist (D, Santa Clara);
Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal (D, 54^th District); Senator Kevin de Leon (D,
Los Angeles); Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D, 6^th District); Assemblymember
Gil Cedillo (D, 45^th District); Assemblymember Julia Brownley (D, 41^st
District); Assemblymember Joan Buchanan (D, 15^th District); Assemblymember
Wes Chesbro (D, 1^st District); Assemblymember Wilmer Amina Carter (D, 62^nd
District); Senator Curren Price (D, Los Angeles) and Assemblymember Anthony
Portantino (D, 44^th District).

In the legislators’ letter to Dr. Chapman, dated and sent August 16, 2012,
they noted:

“The impact of the Great Recession on California and other states has
generated actual and threatened reductions to ADAP budgets in terms of
expanded share of cost obligations and waiting lists. While the Legislature
has rejected these proposals because they impede access to ADAP and force
beneficiaries to, choose between food and treatment, the intersection of the
state and federal fiscal situation and the faster trajectory of drug prices
relative to the growth in demand makes current drug pricing practices
unsustainable.”

They also pointed out:

“Since 2000-2001, the number of patients served by ADAP has increased 76%
while spending on ARVs [antiretrovirals] has increased 194%. The cost of ARVs
per patient has increased from $5,100 per year to $8,500 per year over the
past decade.”

“We thank Assemblymember Butler and the nineteen colleagues in the legislature
who cosigned this letter urging Dr. Chapman, as head of California’s
Department of Public Health, to use the power of the state’s enormous size and
pocketbook to try to leverage reduced prices for antiretroviral drugs used in
California’s MediCal and ADAP programs for low-income Californians,” said
Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

In the legislators’ letter to Dr. Chapman, they further noted that:

“Added to the current pressures, are a number of new very expensive drugs in
the pipeline for FDA approval as early as this month. The anticipated cost of
each of these new drugs creates a tension between the need to make all
HIV/AIDS drugs available to our citizens and the need to ensure that ADAP
remains financially viable as the payor of last resort for Californians who
need these drugs to stay alive and productive.”

“Because of its innovation in responding to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and its
substantial market share, the State of California has the stature to be a
leader in fostering drug prices that are fiscally responsible, fair to the
drug companies and sustain access for persons, with HIVIAIDS. DPH has
statutory and other tools already available to it that can be used to improve
California's negotiating position.”

AHF’s Weinstein added in his statement: “To save lives, curb the spread of
HIV, and lower long-term care expenses, it is imperative to get more patients
tested and into antiretroviral treatment. This will be nearly impossible if we
continue to introduce new HIV drugs—like California-based Gilead Science’s new
treatment, the ‘Quad’—at prices higher than the current, all too similar drugs
they replace. Gilead’s excessive pricing of its AIDS drugs has already
generated record profits for the company, and $53 million in annual pay for
its CEO, John Martin, making him the tenth highest paid executive in the
nation. Sadly, this has come at the expense of state ADAP and Medicaid
programs, the largest purchasers of Gilead’s products, and the people living
with HIV/AIDS that rely on these programs but cannot access them due to
funding constraints. A state as vast and powerful as California can and should
use its clout to stand up to runaway pricing drug companies like Gilead feel
they can get away with.”

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization,
currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 176,000
individuals in 27 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin
America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more
about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook:
www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare.

Contact:

AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Ged Kenslea
Communications Director
+1-323-791-5526 [cell]
gedk@aidshealth.org
 
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