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The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) – the largest US-based AIDS organisation and operator of free AIDS treatment clinics in the US, Africa, Asia and Latin America/Caribbean – today applauded decisions by Boehringer Ingelheim and Gilead Sciences Inc to freeze prices on antiretroviral medications purchased by government agencies.
This commitment by the two companies came on the heels of a written request by AHF, urging a suspension of price increases on antiretroviral medications (ARVs) – particularly for government programmes, many of which have been unable to expand access despite modest funding increases due to regular increases on the price of ARVs.
“We commend Boehringer Ingelheim and Gilead for this precedent-setting move to suspend price increases for lifesaving AIDS drugs and for helping to make AIDS treatment more affordable and accessible,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
“We urge the other drug companies to follow BI’s and Gilead’s lead and to freeze price increases that create an unnecessary burden on an already overburdened public health system and keep lifesaving drugs out reach for those who need them.”
Of the ten recipients of AHF’s letter, only Boehringer and Gilead replied with a commitment to freeze prices.
Boehringer’s response letter states: “Boehringer Ingelheim is committed to ensuring that patients who need Aptivus (tipranavir) and Viramune (nevirapine) tablets and oral suspension have access to the medications … Keeping patients in mind, we have approached price increases responsibly … Three years passed before a price increase was considered for Aptivus (since accelerated approval in June 2005). Boehringer Ingelheim is offering an additional 12-month price freeze to state AIDS Drug Assistance Programmes (ADAPs).”
A representative from Gilead also responded in writing with a promise to freeze price increases, citing concerns brought to their attention by AHF, as well as by the Fair Pricing Coalition. The letter states: “Today, we share your concern regarding antiretroviral cost pressures faced by government payers, particularly during times of limited budget increases and flat funding. In keeping with our commitment to fair pricing and broad access, and to further enhance our price protections for ADAP, FSS (Federal Supply Service) and PHS (US. Public Health System) payers, we will suspend price increases to these government payers through December 31, 2010.”