[Ip-health] Reuters: U.S. lawmakers want health agencies to lower price of Xtandi, a prostate cancer drug developed on government grants

Jamie Love james.love at keionline.org
Mon Mar 28 17:45:00 PDT 2016


Mar 28, 2016 7:30pm
U.S. lawmakers want health agencies to lower prostate cancer drug cost

A group of lawmakers is calling on the National Institutes of Health and
Department of Health and Human Services to step in and reduce the cost of
Medivation Inc's and Astellas Pharma Inc's prostate cancer drug Xtandi.

In the letter signed by Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie
Sanders and Reps. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.), the
lawmakers urged NIH to hold a public hearing to consider overriding the
patent on Xtandi to make the drug available at a lower price.

The medication has an average wholesale price in the United States of more
than $129,000 but is sold in Japan and Sweden for $39,000 and in Canada for
$30,000, according to the lawmakers' letter.

They noted federal funds supported development of the drug, which was based
on research at the University of California, Los Angeles, conducted with
taxpayer-supported grants.

The drug costs four times more in the United States than in other major
countries, the lawmakers wrote in the letter, addressed to HHS Secretary
Sylvia Burwell and NIH Director Francis Collins.

"When Americans pay for research that results in a pharmaceutical, that
drug should be available at a reasonable price," said Doggett, co-chair of
the House Democratic Caucus Prescription Drug Task Force. "An unaffordable
drug is 100 percent ineffective."

A spokesman for Astellas did not have an immediate comment on the
lawmakers' letter or the cost of Xtandi. Medivation could not be reached
for comment.

Spokesmen for the NIH and HHS could not be reached.

Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in America, affecting
about one in seven men, according to the American Cancer Society.

U.S. lawmakers and presidential candidates have in recent months stepped up
criticism of U.S. drug price trends, raising investor concerns that future
price cuts could hurt pharmaceutical and biotech companies.

"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."

Also signing the letter were 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.).

(Reporting by Susan Kelly in Chicago; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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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