[Ip-health] AP: Makers of pricey prostate cancer drug Xtandi are targeted by Congress

Zack Struver zack.struver at keionline.org
Wed Mar 30 11:31:23 PDT 2016


Makers of pricey prostate cancer drug Xtandi are targeted by Congress

By Associated Press

March 29, 2016, 7:02 PM

Shares of Medivation Inc. tumbled Tuesday after a group of lawmakers
started a campaign to lower the price of a drug for advanced prostate
cancer, Xtandi, which they say was developed at UCLA through
taxpayer-supported research grants.

The drug is jointly marketed in the United States by San Francisco-based
Medivation and its partner, Japanese drugmaker Astellas Pharma Inc.
Astellas sells Xtandi outside the U.S.

In a letter to the heads of the Department of Health and Human Services and
the National Institutes of Health, Reps. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) and Peter
Welch (D-Vt.) and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders
(I-Vt.) urged the agencies to step in to cut prices for Xtandi, saying it
costs four times as much in the U.S. as in some other developed countries.

They are asking for public hearings on the drug. The lawmakers want the NIH
to consider overriding Xtandi's patent, which guarantees Medivation and
Astellas exclusive sales for a decade or more. Overriding the patent would
allow for Xtandi's price to be reduced.

"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," the lawmakers said in a statement.

In the U.S., Xtandi has an average list price of more than $129,000 per
year, though insurers negotiate significant discounts. Patients generally
take it for several months. Xtandi is sold in Japan and Sweden for $39,000
and in Canada for $30,000, according to the statement.

Astellas responded Tuesday, saying the lawmakers' campaign doesn't reflect
what insurers or patients actually pay for Xtandi. Astellas said about 80%
of patients with Medicare or private insurance have a monthly co-payment of
$25 or less. It said more than 2,000 men with poor or no insurance and
household incomes of $100,000 or less received Xtandi free of charge last

Medivation shares sank $2.50, or 6.1%, to close at $38.75.

Medivation and Astellas are just the latest drugmakers to find themselves
in Congress' cross hairs.

The chief executive of beleaguered Valeant Pharmaceuticals International
Inc. was subpoenaed Monday to appear before the Senate Aging Committee,
which is holding its third hearing since December to determine the reasons
behind skyrocketing price for drugs.

Valeant, Turing Pharmaceuticals and several other drugmakers have been
buying up rights to old drugs and then jacking up prices many times over
what patients had paid for years.

Executives of the companies have been invited or subpoenaed to testify at
hearings on the issue held by multiple congressional committees.

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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