Roche and Trimeris, the makers of the first HIV entry inhibitor, Fuzeon, announced that the price for the drug will be $20,385 for one year of treatment in Europe, more than double the price of any other anti-HIV medication overseas, The Wall Street Journal reports. Fuzeon is currently under review for marketing approval in both Europe and the United States. Roche said that the "extraordinarily difficult" manufacturing process, which requires 106 chemical reactions, more than 10 times the number for most other antiretroviral drugs, accounts for the unusually high cost of producing the drug. The company is not expected to announce the U.S. price until the company receives Food and Drug Administration approval to market it, which is expected in March.
Because Fuzeon must be taken in combination with other antiretroviral drugs, the total price for a Fuzeon-containing regimen in the United States could cost as much as $36,000 a year. AIDS Drug Assistance Programs throughout the United States are already debating whether to add the medication to their drug formularies, despite the fact that Fuzeon has already been proven to be effective in treating patients who are not responding to other anti-HIV medications. "We just don't know if we'll have the money to pay for it," said Michael Montgomery, chief of the Office of AIDS at the California Department of Health Services.