Merck cuts deals on AIDS meds

Merck is garnering some goodwill in the AIDS community with price-freezes and discounts on its HIV-fighting drugs. First, Merck agreed to keep the new, novel med Isentress at its launch price until 2010 for state-run AIDS Drug Assistance Programs. The freeze comes after pressure from the activist group Fair Pricing Coalition, which had been lobbying Merck to launch Istentress at a "price that offers a reasonable profit" without taxing the pocketbooks of patients and payers.

By keeping the price at its current $9,900 a year, Merck got a thumbs up from the group, which said, "This is a tribute to the value of having open, ongoing discussions with drug companies. Other drugmakers have frozen their AIDS med prices, too, including Gilead Sciences and Boehringer Ingelheim.

Meanwhile, Merck agreed to discount Istentress and another anti-HIV med, Stocrin, by up to 40 percent for patients in Mexico. That arrangement was announced by Mexican Health Secretary Jose Angel Cordova at the big AIDS summit now taking place in Mexico City.

- check out the FPC's press release
- read the post at Pharmalot