[Ip-health] 6 Senators, 6 Representatives Send Letter to NIH in Support of Xtandi March-in

Zack Struver zack.struver at keionline.org
Mon Mar 28 14:08:19 PDT 2016

Press Release:


Lawmakers to NIH and HHS: Act Now on Drug Affordability

Monday, March 28, 2016

WASHINGTON, March 28 - A group of Senate and House lawmakers led by Reps.
Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.), co-chairs of the
Prescription Drug Taskforce, as well as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), today
urged the Department of Health and Human Services and the National
Institutes of Health to step in to lower the cost of a prostate cancer
drug, Xtandi, which costs four times more in the United States than in
other major countries.

“When Americans pay for research that results in a safe and effective drug,
an unreasonably high cost should not limit their access to it. New
treatments are meaningless if patients cannot afford them,” the lawmakers
wrote in a letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell and NIH Director Francis

In the letter, the members called on NIH to hold a public hearing to
consider overriding the patent on Xtandi to make the drug available at a
lower price. Under current law, NIH can take this step if federal funds
supported a drug’s development and the company is selling it at an
unreasonably high price.

Xtandi was developed at the University of California, Los Angeles, through
taxpayer-supported research grants from the U.S. Army and NIH. The
medication, which is sold by Japanese drugmaker Astellas Pharma, has an
average wholesale price in the U.S. of more than $129,000. It is sold in
Japan and Sweden for $39,000 and in Canada for $30,000.

“We do not think that charging U.S. residents more than anyone else in the
world meets the obligation to make the invention available to U.S.
residents on reasonable terms,” the members wrote.

Sanders, Doggett and Welch were joined by Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.),
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)
and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), as well as Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.),
Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.).

“When Americans pay for research that results in a pharmaceutical, that
drug should be available at a reasonable price,” said Doggett, ranking
member of the Subcommittee on Human Resources of the House Ways and Means
Committee and co-chair of the House Democratic Caucus Prescription Drug
Task Force. “The Administration has said it is prepared to use its existing
authority to address this problem on a case-by-case basis; it should do so
now with Xtandi. An unaffordable drug is 100 percent ineffective. Americans
shouldn’t have to choose between their lives and their livelihoods on this
and many other outrageously priced medications.”

“The United States government should use every tool available to lower
outrageously high prescription drug prices,”Sanders said. “NIH has the
power to stop this blatant profiteering and put the pharmaceutical industry
on notice that the era of charging unconscionable prices must end.”

“Pharmaceutical companies provide good drugs that are life-saving and
pain-relieving, but their prices are killing us,” Welch said. “Taxpayers
foot a hefty bill so companies like Astellas Pharma can conduct research
and improve their drugs.  And yet they charged substantially higher prices
than patients in other countries for they very drugs produced by that
research. The NIH has the authority to step in to end this price gouging
and should do so as soon as possible.”

“The rising costs of prescription drugs have left families throughout
Minnesota and the entire country with the impossible choice of either
buying their medications or paying their bills,” said Franken, a member of
the Senate Health Committee. “Drug prices are out of control, and I believe
we need a comprehensive plan to address this growing problem. One step we
can take is to have the Obama Administration crack down on price gouging
and use its authority to ensure access to important medications.”

To read the letter, click

Zack Struver, Communications and Research Associate
Knowledge Ecology International
zack.struver at keionline.org
Twitter: @zstruver <https://twitter.com/zstruver>
Office: +1 (202) 332-2670 Cell: +1 (914) 582-1428

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