Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Merck’s Reduced Cost AIDS Drug Offer Extended to Romania
Merck & Co. announced yesterday that it will extend its offer of reduced prices for its anti-AIDS drugs
Romania, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports (Alexe, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/13). Earlier this month, Merck declared that it would offer the drugs at deeply discounted prices to any government, charitable organization or employer in developing nations. Under the deal, Stocrin would be available for $500 per patient per year, while Crixivan would cost $600 per patient annually. These prices are 55% and 43% lower, respectively, than their sales prices in the United States (
Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/8). Merck's Monday announcement will include Romania in the list of countries eligible to receive the drugs at this cost. Merck said that its decision to offer deeply discounted drugs to Romania stems from both the country's inability to afford drug treatment and the "overwhelming" number of HIV-positive Romanian
children. Romania currently has about 6,270 HIV-positive citizens, more than 5,600 of which are children. Only about 40% of HIV-positive patients receive drug therapy, according to Adrian Caretu, the local manager of Merck Sharp & Dohme, a subsidiary of Merck. Petru Calistru, head of the Victor Babes Hospital for Infectious Diseases, applauded Merck's efforts and called on other drug companies to follow. "This offer is important, but if it is not followed by other drug makers, along with subsidies from the Romanian government, it won't really improve the situation," he said (AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/13).
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