Andrey Rylkov Foundation
for Health and Social Justice
Русский

Once again lives of thousands of Russians are put at risk by a pharmaceutical company

May 27th, 2011, MOSCOW. The suspension of an auction for the procurement of essential medicinal drugs, which was due to take place in May, threatens the life and health of 5700 HIV-positive Russian citizens in need of Kivexa, an antiviral drug. This was announced today by representatives of the Inter-regional social organization Community of People Living with HIV (“Community of PLHIV”).

In 2011, the Russian Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development had plans, under the Government’s ‘Health’ project, to procure more than 2 million tablets (or 5700 annual courses of treatment) of Kivexa for the price of RUR 213.18 ($7.5[1]) per tablet, and had assigned more than RUR 437 million ($15.5 mln.) for that purpose. Back in late 2009, the producer of Kivexa officially announced that starting January 2010 it would lower the price of this vital drug by 40% against the price of the previous year. In the same year, under the national ‘Health’ project 990 annual courses of treatment were procured for RUR 612.41 ($21.7) per tablet, and in 2010 3520 courses for RUR 542.9 ($19.2) per tablet.

The Community of PLHIV considers this to be reasonable, and welcomes the decision of the government to lower the initial auction price of this medicine in 2011 by 65% against the 2009 price, since the amount of medication over this period has increased more than 5.5-fold. However, following the announcement of this price, the auction for the procurement of drugs on May 17th was unexpectedly suspended. The official reason was given as “notification by the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) of Russia on the acceptance of a complaint (against this auction) for due consideration”. The company informed the Community of PLHIV that the auction had been derailed because none of the distributors was set to attend. In any case, this essentially means that the company and the distributors were disagreeing with the price. It is interesting that in 2009 the producer of Kivexa also declined to take part in an auction for the procurement of several antiviral drugs for a similar reason[2], which caused an unacceptable delay in the delivery of this vital medication and serious disruption to patients’ treatment.

It is remarkable that the producer company uses any opportunity to assert that “people living with HIV are the focus of its attention” and “the guaranteed uninterrupted treatment of patients is one of the company’s priorities.” However, the reality of the situation contradicts these declarations,” affirms Andrey Zlobin, chairman of the board of the Community of PLHIV. “The producer of Kivexa finds itself in an ideologically incompatible position. Faced with the need to choose between profit and patients’ health, it chooses profit. Guided by mercantile interests, the company tries to conceal its attempts to influence the process of procuring vital medicinal drugs, although it could not have failed to foresee that filing a complaint with the FAS would suspend the auction. As a result, delivery of Kivexa has been postponed indefinitely, while the lives and health of patients, supposedly the centre of the company’s attention, are put at risk. Moreover, the company can hardly appeal on the grounds of lost revenue in connection with the reduction in price of Kivexa, because its sales demonstrate the growth of income. It is worth mentioning that on April 29th an auction to purchase another one ARV-drug Combivir (zidovudine+lamivudine) was cancelled for obscure reasons. The starting price of this auction was more than RUR 2 billion [$71 mln.]. The company is a monopolist in the manufacturing of this drug, which is in demand by more than 47.5 thousand patients, almost half of all those, who receive ARV treatment.”

Representatives of the Community of PLHIV note that the intractability of the producer of Kivexa in its dealings with the Ministry of Healthcare over the issue of price, despite the annual increase in the procurement of its products, as well as the lack of meaningful dialogue with the patient community, cast doubt over its social role and responsibility. “There is an inescapable feeling that the producer of the drug is trying to extract maximum benefit to the detriment of patients’ interests. It is obvious that the need for antiretroviral drugs produced by the company will continue to grow each year, and such a behaviour can hardly be described as justified in terms of market strategy,” Andrey Zlobin sums up.

Media contact:

a_zlobin@positivenet.ru, +7 926 5956289, +7 495 9557821 Andrey Zlobin.


Kivexa (abakavir/lamivudin) is one of the most effective drugs in highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). This type of medication prolongs patients’ lives, keeps them healthy, preserves the immune system, and lowers the risk of illness from other infections in the presence of HIV. The drug does not cure patients of HIV – the infection remains in their organism for their whole life, yet it hinders the development of AIDS and the onset of mortality. Patients who begin this therapy should take a combination of several drugs daily for the rest of their lives. If the course is interrupted, it can render all previous treatment ineffective.

The Community of PLHIV was founded in 1998 as a community based organization for people living with HIV. The mission of the organization is to improve the quality of life of PLHIV. The Community of PLHIV implements nationwide projects and programmes aimed at developing social services, access to treatment and support for PLHIV, development of adherence to treatment, prevention of HIV, and raising the level of knowledge and awareness about HIV.

 

[1] Price comparisons in USD are provided at today’s Russian Central Bank exchange rate.

[1] See http://hivlife.4bb.ru/viewtopic.php?id=889;

www.epidemiolog.ru/news/detail.php?ELEMENT_ID=3008;

www.poz.ru/phorum/viewtopic.php?t=3834&sid=0a27284daff19ac2c6c53dbe727782b9



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