By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com March 19 2003 1:00 AM ET
Representatives from six state AIDS Drug Assistance Programs met Monday with officials from Roche, the codeveloper of the newly approved HIV entry inhibitor Fuzeon, to discuss the drug's expected high cost, the Los Angeles Times reports. Although Roche and Trimeris have not announced the U.S. price for the drug, Fuzeon will cost more than $20,000 per person per year in Europe. The U.S. price is expected to be even higher. ADAP officials say such a high price tag will prevent them from being able to offer it to people who receive anti-HIV medications through the drug assistance programs.
"With the current budget restraints, we're concerned that [the state drug assistance program] doesn't have sufficient funding to continue our existing level of services," said Michael Montgomery, chief of the California Office of AIDS. "Adding a highly expensive drug is problematic."
Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, added, "If just 15% of California's ADAP patients were on Fuzeon, they would use up more than half of the current entire yearly California ADAP budget--more than $75 million."
Wayne Haught, manager of the Texas ADAP, expressed similar concerns. "Nothing would make me happier than to provide this for our clients," he said. "But that price tag--I'm just shocked. I don't see how we could do it."
An announcement from Roche and Trimeris regarding Fuzeon's U.S. price is expected before the drug starts shipping in late March or early April. It is unclear whether the company will offer discounted prices to ADAPs.