HIV/AIDS Skepticism

Pointing to evidence that HIV is not the necessary and sufficient cause of AIDS

Selling antiretroviral drugs

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2011/03/27

I hadn’t realized how cutthroat is the competition between drug companies until I read about Glaxo vs. Abbott (UPDATE 2-Glaxo versus Abbott case handed to the jury):
“A jury began deliberating on whether Abbott Laboratories . . .  should pay GlaxoSmithKline . . . hundreds of millions of dollars over allegations of unfair HIV drug pricing.  . . . Abbott is accused of improperly hiking the price of one drug to help it preserve sales growth of one of its other HIV blockbusters. . . . [in other words] anti-competitive behavior regarding the drugs Norvir and Kaletra.
Norvir plays a key role in AIDS-fighting cocktails because it can boost the effectiveness of other drugs. Glaxo accuses Abbott of raising Norvir’s price by 400 percent in 2003, as part of an effort to harm competitors whose drugs were dependent on being used in combination with Norvir.”

Huh?! Doesn’t Abbott benefit because Norvir is used with other companies’ drugs??

“Glaxo attorney Brian Hennigan said that if more patients used Norvir, then fewer would use Kaletra, leading to the Norvir price hike. ‘Norvir was just being used in the background as a weapon to protect Kaletra’ . . . . ”

Aha! Quite subtle!

“But Abbott attorney James Hurst said patients had begun taking fewer doses of Norvir, so Abbott hiked the price to make up for the revenue loss.”

No nonsense here about pricing drugs according to what it costs to invent and produce them, in other words, it’s all about selling them for as much as the market can bear.
That admission might be usefully cited in the future under various circumstances.

What is aimed for in the search for new drugs, as companies vie to capture markets for patentable drugs as their patents expire on existing drugs?
Is the aim to bring patients something better?
Not at all. Just more of the same:
Gilead HIV drug meets study goal
Gilead Sciences Inc. said Wednesday its potential HIV treatment elvitegravir met its key goals in a late-stage study.
Its shares rose 41 cents to $40.85 in morning trading.
Patients received once-daily doses of the drug candidate over a 48-week period or a twice daily dose of raltegravir, which is made by Merck & Co. under the name Isentress. Elvitegravir met the primary goal of ‘non-inferiority’, or working as well as Isentress.”

3 Responses to “Selling antiretroviral drugs”

  1. Martin said

    Hi Dr. Bauer, since the grand majority of the people who get poisoned with these drugs can’t really afford them, guess who pays for them? You and Me courtesy of the US government.

    • Henry Bauer said

      Yes. We can’t agree on how to get universal health-care coverage, and anything like “socialized medicine” is anathema, but with “HIV/AIDS” we have both.

  2. I love the “primary goal of non-inferiority”. Presumably based on boosting a surrogate marker in an equivalently meaningless manner.

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