Monday, April 11, 2011

Pharma Continues to Raise Cost of HIV Meds Despite the AIDS Drug Assistance Program Crisis

by Elizabeth Lombino · April 10, 2011

The AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) Crisis continues. In fact, it is getting worse.
As of March 31, the waiting list for ADAP has increased to7,745 people in 11 states. (The number was 5,100 in 10 states when we first began reporting about the ADAP Crisis in January.) That means right at this moment, there are close to 8,000 HIV-positive individuals waiting for financial assistance to pay for their HIV medications. They are being denied coverage for their life-saving medications due to budget cuts on the federal and state levels. They are now at an even greater risk of seeing a drastic decline in their health while they wait for their medications.
That's part one of the bad news. Part two is more disheartening. It seems that one pharmaceutical company (Pharma) has responded to the crisis ... by raising the prices of their HIV/AIDS medications. Seems they have a different definition of crisis.
Gilead Sciences made the decision to raise the prices of their top HIV medications. The cost of Atripla went up by 5.1 percent. Truvada and Emtirva went up by 7.9 percent. All of these medications also experienced increases within the last two years.

Just a few months ago, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) called for the top pharmaceutical companies (including Gilead) to decrease the prices of their medications to assist with the ADAP crisis.  The goal was to inspire Pharma to assist in the crisis by helping ease the financial burden off state and federal funds.
Clearly Gilead did not read the letter.
If thousands of HIV-positive individuals are unable to pay for their medications now without government financial assistance, surely they won't be able to pay with the increase in prices. This is such a ludicrous move. Our health care system is already stretched beyond recognition and continues to face burdens and challenges. So what does Pharma do? Raise the prices of their already insanely expensive medications, thereby further straining state and federal government funding and our health care system.
Please forgive my sarcasm and cynicism. Actions such as these are so unreasonable on so many levels. People are dying from HIV/AIDS needlessly because they are unable to afford their medications. HIV can be treated with medications and people can live long lives -- if they have access to the medications. ADAP provides financial assistance. Now that is being cut.
Pharma could decide to put its bottom line aside and assist in this crisis. Yet they respond by increasing prices. This is greedy, outrageous and purely inhumane.
Please join us in telling Gilead that raising prices on their HIV/AIDS medications is outright wrong. Urge them to look beyond profit and see the vulnerable people they are hurting by making their already expensive medications even more unobtainable.
Photo Credit: Shawn Decker

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