July 16, 2004
"This was a carefully orchestrated sell-out by AHF," said Thomas Gegeny, Executive Director of The Center for AIDS in Houston and an ATAC member. "As far as the HIV/AIDS community is concerned, the issue of Abbott's unprecedented price increase for Norvir is not settled, nor will it be settled until the price is lowered to its former value. There are several other lawsuits and investigations pending, and the community's pressure on Abbott will not abate."
Martin Delaney, founder of Project Inform in San Francisco and also a member of ATAC, noted "The behavior of both AHF and Abbott should come as no surprise in this matter. AHF has a history of bargaining for its own interests to the exclusion of those in the community as a whole. Abbott is simply taking advantage of the opportunity to buy off one avenue of criticism, without addressing the wider problems created by the price increase. The net effect is that people are being forced, through the Norvir price increase, to fund AHF's programs -- without their consent."
Abbott's price hike has sparked a furor among activists, but also healthcare providers, most notably members of the American Academy of HIV Medicine (AAHIVM) and the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA). A physician-led boycott of Abbott research, consultation fees, and in some cases products has ensued. In May, the National Institutes of Health held hearings on whether or not Abbott's patent on Norvir should be released to allow for generic versions of Norvir to be produced under the Bayh-Dole Act. More recently, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to Abbott about its marketing materials depicting Norvir as the lowest priced drug in its class because of the low dose now so commonly used, but which in itself offers no anti-HIV activity. Further, probes against the company by Attorneys General in New York and Illinois are still pending as are a class action filed in California and a complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission.
The AIDS Treatment Activists Coalition (www.atac-usa.org) is a national coalition of AIDS activists, many living with HIV/AIDS, working together to end the AIDS epidemic by advancing research on HIV/AIDS.