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Author Topic: Abbott - a new low  (Read 3745 times)

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Offline trellium

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  • stArk raving Borg
Abbott - a new low
« on: March 14, 2007, 07:00:37 AM »
Life before profits!!!  >:(

AIDS Healthcare Foundation 'Horrified' as Abbott Blacklists Thailand From New Drugs


2007-03-14 09:39:53 -

LOS ANGELES, March 13 /PRNewswire/ -- AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the US' largest HIV/AIDS healthcare, prevention and education provider, which operates free AIDS treatment clinics in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean and Asia, today excoriated US drug giant, Abbott Laboratories for its heartless decision to blacklist the country of Thailand by withdrawing its new drugs' applications from that country's government review process -- a move which in essence deprives Thailand and its citizens of access to any new Abbott medications. Abbott's move came as a mean-spirited retaliation following Thailand's recent move to issue compulsory licenses on some lifesaving drugs, including Kaletra, an anti-retroviral drug manufactured by Abbott that is used in the treatment of HIV/AIDS. World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations include flexibilities and provisions that allow governments to issue compulsory licenses without consulting the foreign patent owner if the country deems it necessary and appropriate to protect the health of its citizens.

"This is a new low, and I am horrified that Abbott would deprive poor people in need of lifesaving medications, particularly for those living with HIV/AIDS, in a country as hard-hit by the epidemic as Thailand," said Michael Weinstein, AIDS Healthcare Foundation's President. "The Wall Street Journal recently ran a blistering expose on Abbott on the front page which revealed just how down and dirty this company gets to keep its market share and drive business to its overpriced drugs and products. In Washington, a congressional oversight committee is moving toward an investigation of Abbott's price gouging and policies. At the same time, Abbott has the hubris to blacklist a courageous country like Thailand simply trying to do the right thing for its people. Astounding."

After Thailand issued the compulsory license for Kaletra earlier this year, Abbott began negotiating price reductions with Thai officials. Thailand appeared to be willing to engage in negotiations, but Abbott would only take $200US off the $2,200US price (per patient yearly). It is estimated that with Thailand's compulsory license, a generic version of Kaletra can be produced for around $1,000 per patient yearly.

The initial impact of Abbott's move to block its new drugs from being approved for use in Thailand could be devastating. The urgent issue for HIV/AIDS patients revolves around the heat-stable form of Abbott's drug, Kaletra, (called Aluvia), which is currently in the process of being approved for use in Thailand. With today's decision, Abbott is likely to revoke the application for governmental approval for that drug in Thailand.

"Without Aluvia in the arsenal of drugs to fight HIV/AIDS, Thailand will now have to maintain expensive cold storage for the drug, and poorer infected populations, who often cannot afford refrigeration, will continue to go without access to any form of Kaletra," said Homayoon Khanlou, MD, AIDS Healthcare Foundation's Associate Director of Medicine. "With drug resistance a major concern for those living with HIV, consistent access to such lifesaving medications is crucial."

"It is our understanding that in issuing the compulsory license, the Government of Thailand acted in accordance with all international regulations, including paying a royalty to Abbott for all sales of generic Kaletra," said Terri Ford, AIDS Healthcare Foundation's Director of Global Advocacy. "AIDS Healthcare Foundation treats people all over the world in our free clinics, and we know how desperately these drugs are needed. I am saddened by this heartless move by Abbott, and urge the company to consider keeping their lifesaving drugs available to those whose lives are actually in need of saving in Thailand and elsewhere."

In the Asia-Pacific region, AIDS Healthcare Foundation currently provides free anti-retroviral treatment through its clinics in India, China and Cambodia, and is opening a center in Vietnam.

Source: AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)

Offline Cliff

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Re: Abbott - a new low
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2007, 07:54:06 AM »
Nothing new from Abbott.  But can't Thailand just break the patent anyway?  Why is this going to result in people not having access to meds, if the whole thing was started by the country trying to issue compulsory licences against Abbott's will?

Offline joemutt

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Re: Abbott - a new low
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2007, 08:25:14 AM »
I read it as Abbott keeping its future meds off the Thai market by not submitting them for Thai FDA approval, which is normal compulsory procedure, so they won't be for sale in the brand version and (hoping ?) they won't be turned into generics. Well, this turned me into a future threatened species once again.  ::)

ed. to add the word "once"
« Last Edit: March 14, 2007, 08:27:05 AM by joemutt »

Offline trellium

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Re: Abbott - a new low
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2007, 08:49:17 AM »
It is totally legal for Thailand can break the patent within WTO guidelines to import/produce its own generic version of Kaletra but it will be the old gel capsule formulation which is heat-sensitive.  Aluvia is the new heat-stable tablet formulation of Kaletra, and now Abbott has withdrawn that application along with 6 other drugs in Thailand.
The main issue is with Abbott withholding its future new drugs' applications from Thailand (or any other countries that dare to break their IP patents).  If drug companies don't submit applications or register new drugs, they can't (or won't) sell it there even though the drugs have already been US FDA approved. 
Kaletra is not going to work indefinitely for the folks that are already resistance to current first or second-line therapies, they will need need newer meds as more effective (and safer) drugs come along in the future. 

Its another low bullying tactic by Abbott to retaliate against a country that is putting lives before profits.

Offline Cliff

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Re: Abbott - a new low
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2007, 09:11:03 AM »
Can Thailand either produce the new verion of Norvir/Kaletra themselves or import them, despite Abbott pulling its application?

Offline Ihavehope

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Re: Abbott - a new low
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2007, 10:06:24 AM »
it's a shame that politics play such a big role in saving lives with people with AIDS.

Infected: April 2005
12/6/06 - Diagnosed HIV positive
12/19/06 - CD4 = 240  22% VL = 26,300
1/4/07 - CD4 = 200 16% VL = ?
2/9/07 = Started Kaletra/Truvada
3/13/07 = CD4 = 386 22% VL ?

Offline mjmel

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Re: Abbott - a new low
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2007, 10:23:10 AM »
Abbott should be taken down a few notches, I agree. One question that comes to my mind is why wasn't Abbott investigated when they drastically increased their profit margin on Norvir a few years ago. I suspect this bit about "a congressional oversight committee is moving toward an investigation of Abbott's price gouging and policies" is just grandstanding. Why wasn't this done when Americans were scrambling to pay for their drugs? It's plain and simple capitalism in motion. It's the stuff that fuels our economy and the corporations in this country. That being stated, please don't peg me as one who would vindicate Abbott.
I am wondering why Thailands refusal to pay these prices puts only Abbott as the sole evil party here?  Other countries negotiate with Abbott for meds and seem to successfully provide their populous with appropriate drugs manufactured by Abbott. They may not like the price structure but still provide their people with the necessary products in their markets. Surely, not everyone is happy to pay extraordinary price hikes but yet it's done everyday. Only saying here that there are two side to any story, always. Abbott may be a profit hog......but Abbott has its patent rights to consider also. Lets say other countries are paying $2000 per patient.  Is Thailand refusing to pay what everyone else is paying? Just wondering if this is the bottom line. Don't Thailand government officials hold some responsibility here? 
For the record:  I would not want to see any people suffer no matter what the disease. I wish medicines weren't so expensive here and anywhere else for that matter. The cold hard facts are that the game is played according to the capitalist rules of engagement and like it or not, we pay high prices for Abbott drugs. For some of us, our "other" AIDS drugs would not have the boost value that Norvir imparts to them. You can bet, Abbott damn well knows it.

Offline aztecan

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  • 32 years positive, 60 years a pain in the butt
Re: Abbott - a new low
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2007, 10:28:55 AM »
Let Us All Bow Down to the Almighty God of Gold.


Capitalism Delivers Death Blow to HIV-Positive Thais.

"May your life preach more loudly than your lips."
~ William Ellery Channing (Unitarian Minister)

Offline mjmel

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Re: Abbott - a new low
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2007, 04:24:35 PM »
I amend previous post. Did some reading today. Abbott = Greed. No doubt about it.

Offline edfu

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Re: Abbott - a new low
« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2007, 09:51:47 PM »
Pure and utter scum.
"No one will ever be free so long as there are pestilences."--Albert Camus, "The Plague"

"Mankind can never be free until the last brick in the last church falls on the head of the last priest."--Voltaire

Offline trellium

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Re: Abbott - a new low
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2007, 11:14:42 AM »
Perhaps Abbott should consider changing their company statement from "A Promise for Life - Turning Science into Caring" to "A Promise for Profits - Turning Science into Commodities BUT Only If You Can Afford It!".    ;D

Can Thailand either produce the new verion of Norvir/Kaletra themselves or import them, despite Abbott pulling its application?

No, at least not right now.  Meltrex (melt extrusion) is the proprietary manufacturing process used to produce the new Kaletra (Aluvia) tablet.  It was developed by Abbott's drug delivery business unit (Soliqs).  They are also currently developing a heat-stable formulation of Norvir using Meltrex.

Below is an article from Kaiser regarding the federal lawsuit filed in 2005 that is scheduled to go on trial in 2008.  It will be an interesting trial to follow.  ;)


House Committee Considers Holding Hearings To Investigate Pricing of Abbott's Antiretroviral Norvir
[Mar 15, 2007]

     The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is considering holding hearings to investigate the pricing of Abbott Laboratories' antiretroviral drug Norvir, an unnamed committee staffer said recently, The Hill reports. The staffer said that the committee -- which is chaired by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) -- has examined the issue during the current legislative session but that he could not say when the hearings would occur if the committee votes to proceed with them. Abbott spokesperson Melissa Brotz said that the company is "cooperating with the inquiry" (Mikhail, The Hill, 3/14). In December 2003, Abbott quadrupled the per-patient wholesale price of Norvir, which is known generically as ritonavir. Norvir is used primarily as a booster for other protease inhibitors, such as Bristol-Myers Squibb's Reyataz and Merck's Crixivan. The cost of Norvir increased from $51.30 for 30 100mg capsules to $257.10 for 30 100mg capsules, or by $5,000 more annually (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/3). Some lawmakers and HIV/AIDS advocates said that the price increase was unreasonable because Norvir was developed using federal funds, according to The Hill. Abbott said that the decision to increase the drug's price was intended to help the drugmaker continue its work in HIV/AIDS medications and other areas. Six House members -- including Reps. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.) and Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) -- in April 2004 sent a letter to then House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chair Joe Barton (R-Tex.) asking that the committee investigate the issue. According to an unnamed staffer, Barton did not conduct any hearings in response to the letter.
Federal Funds

The federal funds used to develop Norvir were "at the crux" of a request brought by the consumer advocacy group Essential Inventions in 2004, The Hill reports (The Hill, 3/14). Essential Inventions in April 2004 filed a request with NIH for a license to produce a generic version of the drug while it is still under patent, saying that the drug was developed using federal funding and is being sold at an unreasonably high price. According to the group, under the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act, the government has the authority to grant licenses to other manufacturers to produce patented medicines that were developed using federal funding. In such cases, the government also reserves the right to demand reasonable prices from the drugmaker. According to Abbott, although a $3.47 million federal grant funded early research on Norvir, the company spent a total of $300 million to bring the drug to market. NIH rejected the request concluding that Abbott was adhering to the intent of the law and that Norvir is made available to patients on "reasonable terms." NIH in its August 2004 decision said that the Federal Trade Commission is the appropriate agency to address allegations that Norvir's pricing is anti-competitive. However, FTC has told Abbott that it will not address such complaints, Abbott spokesperson Jennifer Smoter said (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/5/04). Following NIH's decision, Waxman and then-Rep. and current Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) in October 2004 called on the Government Accountability Office to investigate. In addition, a 2005 lawsuit filed in federal court by the Service Employees International Union's Health and Welfare Fund is scheduled to go to trial in 2008 (The Hill, 3/14).

Offline marc11864

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Re: Abbott - a new low
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2007, 09:42:17 PM »
It's totally disgusting if you ask me.

I've been on Kaletra now for a little over a year and with a pricetag here in the U.S. of roughly $750.00 or thereabout per month through AHCCCS channels, I am going to talk to my doctor about switching off to something else. Then I intend on letting them know exactly what I think of their strongarm tactics.

I am very close with some Thai guys over there (incl. my negative partner) and at least a couple have HIV.

This is capitalism at it's vulgar worst! They should be ashamed of themselves  >:(
Let us cavort like the Greeks of old! You know the ones I mean.

Offline Jeffreyj

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Re: Abbott - a new low
« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2007, 08:03:07 PM »
Trellium: Yes that trial will be interesting to follow. But if Joe Barton(Texas) has anything to do with it, he will protect Abbott. He has denied thousands of Autistic family millions of $$$ for no reason. (Well he is protecting the drug companies) He is EVIL.
Let's hope it goes well. This story makes me angry and sick! Damn.
Positive since 1985


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