TheAIDS Healthcare Foundation, which run free AIDS clinics in various countries, including more than a dozen in the US, took the step over what it calls Merck's "unwarranted pricing" for Isentress. At nearly $13,000 per patient a year, the AIDS med is believed to be the most expensive first line AIDS therapy on the US market today, according to AHF.
Isentress was originally approved in 2007 as a salvage therapy for patients who are resistant to other AIDS drugs. Initially, Merck set the average wholesale price at $12,150 per patient, but since raised the AWP to $12,868, a 5 percent increase, according to AHF. In July 2009, the FDA expanded its use as a first-line treatment, which made the drug the most expensive first-line treatment in the US.
“The fact that Merck recently obtained FDA-approval for wider use of Isentress as a first line treatment, but kept it priced as if it were a salvage drug is reprehensible,” AHF president Michael Weinstein says in a statement. In a letter to Merck ceo Dick Clark, Weinstein writes that "your company’s price for Isentress is hindering AHF’s mission of providing high-quality medical care to people with HIV/AIDS. Access to clinics like AHF’s Healthcare Centers is your company’s primary marketing strategy; therefore we cannot allow it."