AHF To Sponsor S.F. Ballot Initiative to Counter Gilead Drug Price Gouging

In News by AHF

Measure comes on heels of news that Bay Area’s Gilead Sciences priced its newly FDA-approved four-in-one AIDS treatment, Stribild, at $28,500 per patient, per year – 37% more than Gilead’s Atripla – and more than most U.S. AIDS patients earn in a year

SAN FRANCISCO (August 29, 2012) – AIDS Healthcare Foundation hosted a press teleconference today to announce its plan to file a ballot measure in the City of San Francisco seeking to allow voters to weigh in on directing San Francisco city officials to, “…employ all opportunities that the municipal government possesses to bring down the price of prescription drugs.” The proposed ballot measure comes on heels of the FDA approval Monday of the Bay Area’s Gilead Sciences’ four-in-one AIDS treatment combination Stribild—which Gilead immediately priced at $28,500 per patient, per year, Wholesale Acquisition Cost (WAC)—a whopping 37% more than Gilead’s best-selling three-in-one AIDS treatment, Atripla—and also more than most U.S. AIDS patients earn in any given year.

“This is as blatant an example of predatory pricing as there is, and Gilead Sciences and CEO John Martin should be ashamed,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation.  “$28,500 per patient, per year for this drug illustrates how unsustainable drug pricing has become—in fact, $28,500 is more than most U.S. AIDS patients earn in a year. This price will severely limit access to lifesaving AIDS medications by gouging government aid programs like the AIDS Drug Assistance Programs. We previously urged Gilead to price the new combination no higher than that of Atripla. In response to Gilead’s pricing action, we have decided to move forward with a ballot measure in the City of San Francisco that would require city officials to work to reign in such runaway drug costs.”

AHF’s City of San Francisco ballot initiative requires the collection of 9,702 valid signatures of registered San Francisco voters (5% of the last mayoral election voter turnout). Collection of signatures will begin later in the fall and extend through early winter 2013, and the measure should appear on the November 5, 2013 San Francisco election ballot.

AHF’s Drug Pricing Ballot Language

Following is the language of AHF’s proposed ‘Stop Runaway Drug Pricing’ San Francisco ballot measure:

“The people of San Francisco wishing to ensure maximum access to life-saving medications to all of the citizens of the city, state and nation resolve to employ all opportunities that the municipal government possesses to bring down the price of prescription drugs. Our city has a very large population of people who are HIV infected and drug prices have a significant impact on our finances.

This initiative requires that San Francisco enter into direct negotiation with drug manufacturers to pay less for essential medications that it purchases. In addition, the San Francisco delegations to the California Legislature and the US Congress are asked to carry legislation to reduce current drug prices paid by all levels of government by at least one third.

The largest HIV drug maker Gilead Sciences, which is located in the Bay Area has made record profits and its CEO earns $53 million, while thousands of HIV patients have languished on waiting lists for drugs across the United States and the State of California and its cities struggle to pay their bills. As the nation embarks on healthcare reform, which will bring tens of millions of new paying customers to the pharmaceutical industry, this industry must act in a responsible fashion – San Francisco can lead the way.”California State Legislators Say Drug Prices, ‘Unsustainable,’ Urge Action on Pricing by State DPH   Two weeks ago, a group of 20 California legislators led by California Assemblymember Betsy Butler (D, 53rd Assembly District) cosigned a letter to Dr. Ron Chapman, Director of California’s Department of Public Health in which the legislators expressed concern about the rising costs of drugs to treat people with HIV/AIDS served by California’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) and encouraged Chapman’s department to, “…employ all the levers of influence and authority that the government possesses, independently and in partnership with other states, to reduce the price of prescription drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS and its co-morbidities.”

Butler’s cosigners include: Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D, 13th District); Assemblymember Mariko Yamada (D, 8th District); Assemblymember Das Williams            (D, 35th District); Senator Ted Lieu (D, Torrance); Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield (D, 40th District); Assemblymember Toni Atkins (D, 76th District); Assemblymember Jim Beall (D, 24th District); Assemblymember Marty Block (D, 78th District); Senator Elaine Alquist (D, Santa Clara); Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal (D, 54th District); Senator Kevin de Leon (D, Los Angeles); Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D, 6th District); Assemblymember Gil Cedillo (D, 45th District); Assemblymember Julia Brownley (D, 41st District); Assemblymember Joan Buchanan (D, 15th District); Assemblymember Wes Chesbro (D, 1st District); Assemblymember Wilmer Amina Carter (D, 62nd District); Senator Curren Price (D, Los Angeles) and  Assemblymember Anthony Portantino (D, 44th District).

In the legislators’ letter to Dr. Chapman, dated and sent August 16, 2012, they noted:

 “Added to the current pressures, are a number of new very expensive drugs in the pipeline for FDA approval as early as this month, The anticipated cost of each of these new drugs creates a tension between the need to make all HIV/AIDS drugs available to our citizens and the need to ensure that ADAP remains financially viable as the payor of last resort for Californians who need these drugs to stay alive and productive.”

“Because of its innovation in responding to the HIVIAIDS epidemic and its substantial market share, the State of California has the stature to be a leader in fostering drug prices that are fiscally responsible, fair to the drug companies and sustain access for persons, with HIVIAIDS. DPH has statutory and other tools already available to it that can be used to improve California’s negotiating position.”

“Gilead’s excessive pricing of it AIDS drugs has already generated record profits for  the company, and $53 million in annual pay for its CEO, John Martin, making him the tenth highest paid executive in the nation,” added AHF’s Weinstein. “Sadly, this has come at the expense of state ADAP and Medicaid programs, the largest purchasers of Gilead’s products, and the people living with HIV/AIDS that rely on these programs but cannot access them due to funding constraints. A state as vast and powerful as California—and a City like San Francisco—can and should use its clout to stand up to runaway pricing drug companies like Gilead feel they can get away with.”

# # #

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 176,000 individuals in 27 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare.

F.D.A. Approves Once-a-Day Pill for H.I.V.
Gilead Sciences Faces Pressure to Keep Price Low on New HIV Drug