High Price of Fuzeon Could ‘Bankrupt’ HIV/AIDS Patients, Programs, Editorial Says
The "walloping" $20,000 cost per patient per year of drug maker Roche's new HIV drug Fuzeon is "an expense that could bankrupt the programs that guarantee that patients get treated -- the same programs that also as much as guarantee that the drug makers make a profit," a Newark Star-Ledger editorial states (Newark Star-Ledger, 3/7). Late last month, Roche announced that the drug, which is designed for HIV patients who have failed to respond to other medications, will cost $20,385 per year per patient in Europe, more than double the price of the most expensive antiretroviral drugs on the market. Roche said that a complex manufacturing process, which requires 106 chemical reactions, more than 10 times the number for most other antiretroviral drugs, accounts for the "unusually high" cost of producing the drug. The company is not expected to announce the U.S. market price until the drug receives FDA approval, which is expected to come in later this month (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/5). The editorial says that Fuzeon "is a drug for a pandemic that affects millions," therefore it is "time for the pharmaceutical industry to examine both its corporate conscience and its economic interests." The editorial concludes, "At a lower price, Fuzeon would make Roche its money over time, given the millions of patients and the backstop of public programs to pay the tab" (Newark Star-Ledger, 3/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.