Officials from the six biggest AIDS Drug Assistance Programs in the country have joined together to help press pharmaceutical companies to reduce the prices of their anti-HIV medications, The Wall Street Journal reports. ADAP representatives from California, New York, Texas, Florida, Illinois, and New Jersey will meet in March with drug company executives. To date, state-run ADAPs have essentially operated individually to secure low-cost drugs to sell at steep discounts or give away to low-income HIV-positive people. The new six-state coalition marks the first time the separate ADAP plans have combined their negotiating efforts. The ADAP representatives have invited Roche, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Pfizer, Abbott Laboratories, and Bristol-Myers Squibb to attend the meetings.
The meeting will come as many ADAPs around the country struggle with how to adjust to steep funding cuts or the tightening of program eligibility as states decide how to deal with budget deficits. Although most anti-HIV drugmakers in 2002 announced a price freeze for drugs sold to the ADAPs, the programs are seeking further price cuts to help offset reduced funding or increased enrollment that is currently leading several states to consider adopting waiting lists for the programs. There are currently about 1,000 people on ADAP waiting lists in 12 states.
ADAP officials also will be discussing pricing for Roche's new HIV entry inhibitor Fuzeon, which is expected to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration by the end of March. The injectable drug, the first to be developed in the new entry inhibitor class of medications, has already been priced at more than $20,000 a year in Europe, more than double the price of any other anti-HIV medication. Roche has not yet announced the U.S. price for the drug, but many ADAP leaders believe that if Roche does not offer steep discounts for the drug programs, the cost will be too high for them to be able to offer it to program enrollees.