AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Rep. Diane Watson Call on GlaxoSmithKline to Lower the Price of its AIDS Drugs Overseas
Rep. Diane Watson (D-Calif.) and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation yesterday held a number of media events and will today run a newspaper advertisement urging drug maker GlaxoSmithKline to lower the price of its antiretroviral drugs for developing countries. In addition to hosting press conferences in Washington, D.C., North Carolina, South Africa and the United Kingdom, the foundation is sponsoring an open letter to GSK in today's Raleigh News & Observer calling on the company to lower its drug prices (AIDS Healthcare Foundation release, 2/13). The ad bears the headline, "Lower AIDS Drug Prices ... Do the Right Thing -- Now!" The letter states that the drug maker "offers the best hope to save millions of ... lives through its unique multi-drug formulations that combine several life-saving AIDS drugs in one pill," adding that in spite of GSK's "preferential pricing" program, the drugs are still too expensive for people in developing nations. In addition, the letter states that "GSK's bureaucracy has created needless red tape for clinics providing care to the poor, a hurdle that none of GSK's peers require." The letter concludes, "We call on GSK to immediately reduce AIDS drug prices and cut the red tape: Corporate responsibility demands no less" (AIDS Healthcare Foundation Web site, 2/14). The AIDS Healthcare Foundation has also posted an online petition denouncing GSK pricing practices on its Web site. AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein said that under GSK's pricing system, antiretroviral drug regimens can cost $2,000 per patient per year in developing nations, a cost that is out of reach for most individuals and governments. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Watson are calling on GSK to lower the cost of its antiretroviral drugs so that a drug regimen involving its medicines would cost $500 per patient per year. Watson said that although research and development for new drugs is expensive, GSK should be able to lower its prices because it receives funding and "generous tax incentives" from the U.S. government (AIDS Healthcare Foundation release, 2/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.