Price of Abbott HIV Drug Protested

From Reuters

A group of doctors who treat AIDS called for a boycott Tuesday of drugs made by Abbott Laboratories Inc. to protest the company’s recent price hike on an important HIV medicine.

Abbott in December raised the price of the drug Norvir, a key component of many AIDS-fighting cocktails, by 401%. The increase -- 100 milligrams of Norvir, the most common daily dose, jumped from $1.71 to $8.57 -- has generated “a never-before-seen level of outrage” among physicians, said Dr. Benjamin Young, an HIV specialist at Rose Medical Center in Denver.

About 200 physicians have agreed to boycott Abbott drugs in favor of alternatives whenever appropriate, Young said.


The doctors also have agreed to ban Abbott sales representatives from their offices and to refuse to participate in any new Abbott-sponsored clinical trials until the firm rescinds the hike.

Also on Tuesday, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which runs clinics in the U.S., Africa and Central America, said it was filing a suit against Abbott accusing it of antitrust violations.

Abbott spokeswoman Laureen Cassidy said such charges were “completely without merit” and the lawsuit “jeopardizes the long-term interests of AIDS patients.”

Two states also are probing whether Abbott fairly priced the medication. Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan and New York Atty. Gen. Eliot Spitzer sent subpoenas to Abbott late last week, the company confirmed. AIDS activists also have asked federal antitrust authorities to investigate the pricing.

Cassidy said the company “is in compliance with competition laws.”

The company has argued that the price hike was long overdue given Norvir’s benefits in enhancing other medicines.

Plus, public assistance programs can buy Norvir at the old price, and anyone without public aid or private insurance can get Norvir free, she said.

Abbott shares fell 26 cents Tuesday to $44.10 on the New York Stock Exchange.