Gilead blasted for price hikes on four key AIDS drugs

In Advocacy, News by AHF


A recent Cowen Quick Take Distribution investor advisory notes ‘third party sources’ report that on January 1st, Gilead raised its prices on eight drugs, including four key AIDS medications, which rose an average of 6%

AIDS drugs affected include Gilead’s bestselling three-in-one combination Atripla, which increased by 6.9% to a Wholesale Acquisition Cost (WAC) of $1,878.23 per patient, per month; Complera, by 5.8% to a WAC of $1,936.53; Emtriva by 5.5% to a WAC of $478.45 and Viread by 6.0% to a WAC of $771.39.

WASHINGTON (January 10, 2013) Advocates from AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) today criticized Gilead Sciences and its CEO John Martin on the news that effective January 1st, the company raised the price of eight drugs, including four key AIDS medications, which Gilead hiked an average of 6%. According to a recent Cowen Quick Take Distribution advisory from Cowen & Company, the financial and investment firm, ‘third party sources’ reported that Gilead’s bestselling three-in-one AIDS drug combination Atripla increased by 6.9% to a Wholesale Acquisition Cost (WAC) of $1,878.23 per patient, per month; Complera, by 5.8% to a WAC of $1,936.53; Emtriva by 5.5% to a WAC of $478.45 and Viread by 6.0% to a WAC of $771.39.

“The fact that Gilead is starting the new year off with price hikes averaging 6% on these four key HIV/AIDS medications does not bode well for AIDS patients and the programs and insurers that serve and care for them,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “Gilead’s record profits derive mainly from the corporate welfare of government care programs. As tax dollars ultimately pay for most of these drugs, we continue to ask Gilead to show even a modicum of restraint in its drug pricing, particularly for programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, private insurers and other payors.”

Gilead has long been one of the most profitable pharmaceutical companies and produces many of the most widely prescribed HIV/AIDS drugs. Last year, Gilead landed on Standard & Poor’s top 100 gainers list for November, 2012 shortly after scoring record profits in its 2012 third quarter. According to a Cabot Investing Newsletters news item, “Gilead Sciences (GILD) was one of the top S&P 100 gainers list for November, Investor’s Business Daily reported. The S&P 100 index includes the very biggest U.S. companies — the largest market cap stocks in the broader S&P 500.

Separately, the investor website reported yesterday that Gilead, “…has significant undervalued opportunities related to its fixed-dose combination (FDC) strategy in HIV franchise.” iStockAnalyst, which, according to its website is, “…a virtual community of financial bloggers, investment advisors, money managers and investment newsletter managers that provides in-depth and timely research articles for investing in today’s market,” noted that “The company has achieved market leadership in HIV through the development of key backbone therapies Viread and Emtriva and their exclusive co-formulation with other drugs to create fixed-dose combinations (FDCs).” And that “By combining multiple pills into one, Gilead improves compliance, a major issue in HIV treatment and creates a significant advantage over competitors’ multi-pill regimens.

The iStockAnalyst report then briefly outlined the history of a price increase of another AIDS drug manufacturer, Abbott, and its booster drug, Norvir. iStockAnalyst then noted, “It is important to consider the consequences of dramatic price increases. Abbott faced negative publicity from patient advocacy and physician groups, as well as several lawsuits from payors, competitors, and physicians. Despite the pressure, Norvir pricing remains high.

“We spoke out against Abbott’s price gouging on Norvir years ago and we will continue to speak out—now directly to Gilead—about AIDS drug pricing, which literally may be a matter of life and death for those excluded because of the high costs of these potentially lifesaving medications,” added AHF’s Weinstein.

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