Drugmaker Helps Texas AIDS Program Avoid Massive Cuts

A key maker of HIV/AIDS drugs has reached an agreement to extend new voluntary discounts and rebates for most of its products to state AIDS Drug Assistance Programs, the ADAP Crisis Task Force (ACTF) announced on Nov. 30. The new terms with Gilead Sciences are "a big deal" for the program in Texas as well as other state ADAPs, said Murray Penner, deputy executive director of the National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors, which helped create the task force in 2002.

The Texas prescription assistance program was facing a $19.2 million shortfall in the next budget, effective Sept. 1. It is not known how much the state will save through the deal, said Christine Mann, spokesperson for the Department of State Health Services. It also is "too soon to tell how much, if any, additional funds Texas ADAP would receive" of the $35 million President Barack Obama pledged on World AIDS Day for state HIV/AIDS treatment access programs, she said. That sum was part of a $50 million commitment Obama made to domestic HIV treatment.

The agreement with ACTF continues a price freeze on Gilead HIV medications through 2013, Penner said. Neither Mann nor Penner would reveal the amount of the discounts, with Mann citing proprietary reasons. The discounts go beyond what Gilead already provided, Penner added.

Texas officials and ADAP advocates have been meeting for months to discuss ways to handle the looming budget shortfall. Tightening income eligibility was considered earlier this year but taken off the table in August, a position reaffirmed in October, Mann said. About half of the 14,251 low-income Texans in the program receive Gilead drugs, she said.