24 Sep 2015

US company backs down on Aids drug price hike

11:21 am on 24 September 2015

An American pharmaceutical company is backing down on a 5000 percent increase in the price of an Aids drug, but that is not reassuring those concerned about the wider implications.

Following a backlash over the raising of the price of Daraprim from $21 a dose to more than $1000, Turing Pharmaceutical now said it would lower the price.

However, United States HIV Medicine Association spokesperson Judith Aberg said people who needed the drug may still face financial problems.

She told Morning Report the bigger picture was that if other companies looked at similar cost increases, healthcare was going to become unaffordable for many.

The question became how you prioritise who gets treated and who doesn't, or who gets the preferred treatment over who gets a cheaper one that may be less effective, Dr Aberg said.

Pharmac chief executive Steffan Crausaz said yesterday that Daraprim had been subsidised for about $30, and 12 people in New Zealand took up the drug last year.

He said Pharmac would look for an alternative, but could end up covering the new cost.