Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Abbott, AIDS Healthcare Foundation Settle Lawsuits, Agree to Collaborate on AHF Programs in United States, Africa
Abbott Laboratories on Friday agreed to support AIDS Healthcare Foundation prevention, testing and treatment programs for 10,000 people in the United States and Africa as part of a settlement for two lawsuits filed by AHF over the pricing of Abbott's antiretroviral drug Norvir, the Chicago Sun-Times reports (Chase, Chicago Sun-Times, 7/17). In March, AHF filed suit against Abbott claiming that the pharmaceutical company used false advertising to say that state Medicaid programs would not be affected by Norvir's price increase. In December 2003, Abbott increased by 400% -- from $54 per month to $265 per month -- the per-patient wholesale price of Norvir, which is known generically as ritonavir. Norvir is used primarily as a booster for other protease inhibitors, such as Bristol-Myers Squibb's Reyataz and Merck's Crixivan. The AHF suit alleges that Abbott falsely stated the impact the price increase would have on California's Medicaid program. The false advertising suit came after AHF in February filed a federal antitrust suit against Abbott that sought unspecified damages and a court order establishing a price for Norvir that is within "reasonable financial reach of the HIV-infected public" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/19). "Abbott and AHF realized there are more pressing issues facing people with HIV and working together will benefit everyone," Abbott spokesperson Jennifer Smoter said. The financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed (Dow Jones Newswires, 7/16). The settlement does not cover a lawsuit filed by the Prescription Access Litigation, a coalition of consumer groups (Bloomberg News/Chicago Tribune, 7/17). A lawsuit and investigation by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) also is still pending (Chicago Sun-Times, 7/17).
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