Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
GlaxoSmithKline ‘Expresses Willingness’ to Cut Costs on AIDS Drugs in China
GlaxoSmithKline has "expressed its willingness" to further reduce the price of its AIDS drugs Combivir and 3TC in China, Li Heng, GSK director of corporate affairs for China and Hong Kong, told Chinese Ministry of Health officials on Friday, AFX News reports. The Chinese unit is waiting on approval from its corporate head office, she added. The drugs were introduced in China in January 2000 at a 50% price reduction. However, GSK officials said they are now willing to lower the price of each drug to about $1,950 per year, excluding taxes and tariffs, a price similar to the prices Merck & Co. recently announced for its AIDS drugs Crixivan and Stocrin. Last month, Bristol-Myers Squibb agreed to lower Chinese prices on its AIDS drugs Zerit and Videx by 30%. All three companies have been negotiating price reductions with the Chinese Ministry of Health for several months. Shen Jie, director of the country's National Center for AIDS Prevention and Control, said last month that the government would consider breaking patents on AIDS medications if the prices of AIDS drugs were not brought down to an "acceptable level," closer to the $350 annual per-patient price offered by Indian generic drug manufacturers. However, she added that because of China's recent admission into the World Trade Organization, the government did not want to break the patents and would first seek to negotiate discounts with the pharmaceutical companies (AFX News, 12/5).
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