[Ip-health] NEWS: VA Should Acquire Life-Saving Hep-C Drug, Sanders Says

Jamie Love james.love at keionline.org
Tue May 12 11:06:48 PDT 2015

Amazing that the VA of all agencies does not have enough money to pay for
this drug, give the role of the VA in supporting HCV research, including
but not limited to by the Pharmasett founder.

The press release refers to "emergency" measures, but the US law is not
limited to emergencies, although it was used during an emergency, as a
threat, in 2001.


On Tue, May 12, 2015 at 1:56 PM, Elizabeth Rajasingh <
elizabeth.rajasingh at keionline.org> wrote:

> KEI has worked with Sen. Sanders on this issue and is very happy to see he
> is asking the Department of Veterans Affairs for a compulsory license on
> hepatitis C drugs. This is the second time that a U.S. Senator has asked
> for a compulsory license in the context of hepatitis C. Earlier, Senator
> Leahy asked the NIH to determine if they had march-in rights against
> sofosbuvir and if so, to exercise them.
> See the Press Release below.
> http://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/sanders-urges-va-to-use-emergency-powers-to_save-lives-of-veterans-with-liver-disease
> Sanders Urges VA to Use Emergency Powers to
> ​ ​
> Save Lives of Veterans with Liver Disease
> WASHINGTON, May 12 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today asked the Department
> of Veterans Affairs to invoke emergency powers to make expensive hepatitis
> C drugs available at affordable prices to treat tens of thousands of
> veterans now being denied the most effective care.
> The VA recently stopped enrolling veterans in successful new treatments for
> the often deadly liver disease because the department already had spent the
> more than $400 million it had budgeted for the costly drugs.
> The high-profit hepatitis C drugs are among the most expensive medications
> on the market. Gilead Sciences makes two of the new blockbuster medications
> and charges $1,000 per pill. That adds up to $84,000 over the course of
> caring for a single patient. Even with a discount, the large VA health care
> system still drained its budget for treating hepatitis C.
> Sanders’ proposal would make it possible for the VA, which already has
> treated about 20,000 veterans for hepatitis C, to afford to care for the
> estimated 200,000 additional veterans enrolled in VA health care who are
> believed to have the disease.
> In a letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald, Sanders urged him to authorize
> the manufacture or importation of the drug for VA patients at a fraction of
> what is being charged by the companies which hold patents on the
> medications.
> “Our nation’s veterans cannot and should not be denied treatment while drug
> companies rake in billions of dollars in profits,” Sanders said in the
> letter. He noted that the new medications could cure many more patients
> with far fewer side effects. “We must not allow corporate greed to stand in
> the way of this potential.”
> The legal provision Sanders cited has been used in the past to stop
> profiteering by defense contractors in wartime. The threat of using the
> same law by the administration of President George W. Bush persuaded Bayer,
> which held a patent on Cipro, to dramatically cut the price of the
> antibiotic after anthrax-laced letters were mailed to Capitol Hill and news
> media offices in 2001.
> “One solution to this would be for Gilead Sciences to simply provide the
> drug to VA at no cost,” Sanders said. “However, the company has not stepped
> up to do this for our country’s veterans.”
> As chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Sanders last year
> held a hearing on the high price of hepatitis C medications. Now serving as
> ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, Sanders said using the
> government’s existing authority to have the hepatitis C drugs manufactured
> or imported at lower cost would save taxpayers billions of dollars now
> going to the pharmaceutical companies.
> To read Sanders’ letter to Secretary McDonald, click here.
> ----
> Elizabeth Rajasingh
> Perls Research and Policy Fellow, Knowledge Ecology International
> 1621 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 500
> Washington, DC 20009
> elizabeth.rajasingh at keionline.org | 1-202-332-2670
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James Love.  Knowledge Ecology International
KEI DC tel: +1.202.332.2670, US Mobile: +1.202.361.3040, Geneva Mobile:
+41.76.413.6584, twitter.com/jamie_love

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