REP. WYDEN TO PRESS FOR TAXOL COST DATA
REP. WYDEN TO PRESS FOR TAXOL COST DATA during Jan. 25 hearing before the Oregon Democrat's House Small Business/Regulation Subcommittee. Wyden wants to determine how Bristol-Myers Squibb and the National Cancer Institute arrived at their agreement on the pricing of the NCI-developed anticancer agent. Because cost information has not been made public, the congressman says it is impossible to know whether Taxol is priced fairly. National Institutes of Health Director Bernadine Healy, MD, and NCI Cancer Treatment Division Director Bruce Chabner, MD, have been invited to testify. Bristol was also invited to testify: VP- Licensing Z. P. Horovitz, a veteran of previous Taxol hearings, is expected to represent the company. Bristol has provided generalized information of the factors involved in the Taxol pricing decision. The company resisted making any specific cost data on the product available and will continue to try to protect those data. Another witness is expected to be Jamie Love, director of a consumer group called the Taxpayer Assets Foundation. Love is expected to argue that taxpayers' investment in Taxol development, in the form of NCI research, should yield a return reflected in as low a market price as possible. FDA approved Taxol (paclitaxel) for treatment of refractory ovarian cancer Dec. 29 ("The Pink Sheet" Jan. 4, p. 8). The cost for an average three-week treatment cycle with Bristol-Myers Squibb's antitumor agent is $986.18; patients will require two to six cycles. However, the company notes that the net average cost for a cycle is $695.25, factoring for Medicaid rebates, free supplies for NCI and for indigent patients. That pricing -- in the range of existing ovarian cancer treatments -- appeared to satisfy NCI's concerns under the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement. The net weighted average price for Taxol is in the range of two other Bristol anticancer agents: Platinol (cisplatin), which costs about $680 for a one-month supply, and the previously marketed ovarian cancer treatment Paraplatin (carboplatin), which costs about $1,030 for one month's therapy.
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