Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Norvir story: A look into how the drug companies operate

From Wikipedia here.

[The HIV drug] [r]itonavir is manufactured as Norvir by Abbott Laboratories. Research that led to the drug's development was financed by a $3,500,000 federal grant through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and over $200,000,000 by Abbott Labs. Most of the $200,000,000 figure cited by Abbott paid for clinical trials--despite NIH offering to pay for them--because Abbott was concerned about "public interest" responses to the high prices they projected Norvir would command.[1] The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved ritonavir on March 1, 1996, making it the seventh approved antiretroviral drug in the United States. In 2003, Abbott raised the price of a Norvir course from USD $1.71 per day to $8.57 per day [NYT reports from $1,500 a year to $7,800*], leading to claims of price gouging by patients' groups and some members of Congress. Consumer group Essential Inventions petitioned the NIH to override the Norvir patent, but the NIH announced on August 4, 2004 that it would not invoke its legal right to allow generic production of Norvir, citing potential adverse effects on the pharmaceutical market.[2]

*"An annual Norvir dosage in Belgium . . . costs less than $720 a year." See New York Times story about this controversy here.

Order The $800 Million Pill: The Truth behind the Cost of New Drugs here.

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