Members of the New York and Philadelphia chapters of ACT UP protested outside the office of drug company Abbott Laboratories in Whippany, N.J, on Thursday to protest the company's recent 400% price hike on its HIV protease inhibitor Norvir. Chanting "Abbott Lies, We Die: Drop the price of Norvir!" the activists showered the facility with "blood money" and left a funeral wreath in protest of deaths that will occur due to the price increase on the drug.
AIDS activists suggest that Abbott boosted the price of Norvir from $2.14 to $10.71 for a 100-milligram pill to unfairly inflate the costs of drug regimens containing other protease inhibitors that rely on Norvir as a booster. However, the price of Abbott's protease drug, Kaletra, which contains a small dose of Norvir in the same pill, remained unchanged, making it much less expensive than any other protease inhibitor-Norvir combination. Company officials say the price increase was made to better reflect Norvir's value in HIV treatment and to generate funding for Abbott to study and develop other medications, including anti-HIV drugs.
"Abbott's decision to raise the price of Norvir will cost lives around the country. Public health care and private insurance systems will be further undermined by this hike," said Mark Milano of the New York chapter of ACT UP.
More than 300 HIV caregivers are carrying out a nationwide protest against Abbott, including resigning from Abbott advisory panels, backing out of Abbott drug trials, banning company sales staff members from their offices, and avoiding prescribing Abbott medications whenever possible. The attorneys general of Illinois and New York also are investigating Abbott over the Norvir price hike. The Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation also has filed a lawsuit against the company.