A new study published in the Annals
of Internal Medicine today that provides a snapshot of a simplified
cost/benefit analysis of the potential economic savings gained by use of
generic antiretroviral therapy to treat people with HIV/AIDS versus the
slightly reduced efficacy of the drugs prompted advocates from AIDS
Healthcare Foundation (AHF) to reiterate its call on Gilead
Sciences, a key maker of branded AIDS drugs, to reduce pricing on
its key AIDS drugs such as Atripla
as patents expire. The study reported that billions of dollars in
healthcare cost savings could be achieved through the use of generic
antiretroviral therapy; however, the study also reported slightly
reduced efficacy of the generic drugs.
"The differences in efficacy of the rugs reported in this study are
largely a result of pill burden, because patients must often take the
generic drugs separately and/or at more than one time per day versus the
all-in-one, once-a-day convenience of many branded combinations like
Gilead's Atripla," said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS
Healthcare Foundation. "However, these generic medications are still
clearly effective, as evidenced by the success of global AIDS programs
which have provided lifesaving treatment using generic drugs to millions
of people in Africa and elsewhere in the developing world."
According to a BBC
News story on the study, "…trial data suggests generic drugs
might be slightly less effective. And they require users to take three
daily pills instead of one, increasing the risk some patients may miss
doses. The doctors calculate reduced treatment efficacy could result in
4.4 months of life lost per patient lifetime. At the same time the
lifetime financial savings would be $42,500 (£26,500) per patient, say
the Massachusetts General Hospital investigators."
"The savings could be as much as one billion dollars per year here in
the United States, while the efficacy decreased relatively slightly when
using generics," added AHF's Weinstein. "Now that Gilead's patents on
many key drugs are expiring, the company must lower its prices of drugs
like Atripla, Stribild-a four-in-one combination that actually relies on
many older Gilead drugs that were otherwise approaching end of patent.
In addition, we strongly believe that local, state, and federal
governments should use every tool at their disposal to bring down drug
prices. As tax dollars ultimately pay for most of these drugs, we extend
our call on Gilead for price concessions on these AIDS drugs."
Gilead's four-in-one AIDS treatment combination, was approved by the
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in early September and immediately
priced by Gilead at $28,500 per patient, per year, Wholesale Acquisition
Cost (WAC). That price was over 35% more than Atripla, the company's
best selling combination HIV/AIDS treatment, and made Stribild the
highest priced first line combination AIDS therapy today.
About AIDS Healthcare Foundation
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS
organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to more
than 183,000 individuals in 28 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.
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