Statement from Margarida Jorge, campaign director for Lower Drug Prices Now, on the news that AstraZeneca approached Gilead about a potential merger:

Monday, June 8, 2020

“Mergers and consolidation in the pharmaceutical industry is bad news for patients, and could prove even more harmful as demand for affordable COVID treatments and vaccines is bound to increase. Drug corporations already have monopoly control to charge patients inflated prices for prescription drugs in the past few years. Corporations like AstraZeneca and Gilead have historically used their monopoly power to price-gouge patents for necessary medicines, charging sometimes tens of thousands of dollars for a single treatment. 

In the middle of a global pandemic, our number one priority must be getting necessary vaccines and treatments to as many people as possible as quickly as possible — and we can’t do that if they’re not affordable because massive drug conglomerates are allowed to charge any price they want. Now more than ever, Congress must take action to ensure that the medicines being developed with taxpayer investments are affordable and accessible to everyone. It’s time to put our health ahead of boosting big Pharma profits.”

Background:

Taxpayer funding for COVID drugs:

Record of price gouging:

AstraZeneca:

  • Crestor: AzatraZeneca increased the price of Crestor, a medicine to treat high cholesterol, several times before the generic version was released in order to drive up the price of the generic version — a common industry practice. AstraZeneca is currently facing a lawsuit for fraudulent marketing of Crestor and offering kickbacks to physicians who prescribed the drug.

Gilead:

  • PrEP (Truvada), a drug to prevent HIV/AIDS, was developed with extensive taxpayer funding through the NIH. Still, Gilead charges up to $20,000 per year for the medication in the U.S., blocking generics in order to protect its monopoly price control. The same medicine is available in other countries for around $60 per year.
    • CDC studies have shown there are 1 million people (mostly people of color) who should be on PrEP who aren’t because they can’t afford it.
  • Sovaldi, a drug for Hepatitis C, was developed at Emory University and the Dept of Veterans Affairs. Gilead received monopoly price control over the drug by buying another corporation that managed to get ownership of the public research. The company charges $1,000 per pill, or $84,000 per treatment. 

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Lower Drug Prices Now is a national coalition of nearly 60 social, racial and economic justice organizations with members in all fifty states. We are committed to transformative, systemic and bold reforms to ensure everyone has access to affordable medicines — no matter where they live, what they look like or how much money they have. Learn more at www.lowerdrugpricesnow.org and follow us on Twitter @peopleb4pharma.

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