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

Jamie Love james.love at keionline.org
Tue May 12 13:14:48 PDT 2015

My careless mistake regarding the reference to Senator Leahy.   He had
approached the NIH about march-in on the BRAC patents.

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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