Senators ask FTC official to testify at Norvir hearing
May 15 2004 12:00 AM ET
Eight Democratic senators this week wrote to National Institutes of Health director Elias Zerhouni to ask the Federal Trade Commission to send a representative to an upcoming hearing on the possible production of a generic version of the HIV protease inhibitor Norvir, The Wall Street Journal reports. In December Abbott Laboratories raised the price of Norvir by more than 400%, from about $54 per month to $265 per month. Norvir is commonly used to boost the effects of other protease inhibitors and is one of the most commonly prescribed anti-HIV medications. Essential Innovations, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group, is requesting a license to produce a generic version of patented Norvir because the organization claims Norvir is subject to a law that allows drugmakers to make generic copies of patented drugs that were developed wholly or partially with taxpayer dollars. The letter calls for an FTC representative to discuss "competitive issues" raised by Norvir's price increase. FTC officials declined to comment on the request. Three state attorneys general are investigating the price increase, and Abbott is facing several lawsuits in state and federal courts over the price increase.