Roche releases price for new Aids drug

Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Roche on Monday set at 52 euros ($56) a day the European price tag for a new Aids drug that could prolong the lives of patients with drug-resistant strains of HIV.

Roche said it would make supplies of Fuzeon available in the European Union under a special program, ahead of formal approval by EU regulators who are soon expected to license the drug.

The yearly cost of Fuzeon treatment will be 18 980 euros ($20,409), Roche said. The most expensive Aids drugs now available cost about $7 500 a year, although some combination treatments—a cocktail of different drugs—approach $15 000 in annual costs.

“This price reflects the structural complexity of Fuzeon and its highly sophisticated manufacturing process,” said William Burns, head of the Roche pharmaceuticals division.

“Fuzeon is the most clinically advanced agent of the fusion inhibitors, a completely new class of drugs.”

Fusion inhibitors are designed to block HIV—the virus that causes Aids—from entering healthy blood cells.
Existing HIV drugs work inside the infected cell.

Roche said Fuzeon represents “the first significant breakthrough in HIV therapy since 1996.”

Roche said the while the average European Union price of the drug following EU approval would likely remain about 52 euros, it might vary from country to country because of taxes and trade margins.

Roche, which developed Fuzeon with US-based Trimeri, said it would not release its US price until the drug is formally launched on the American market. Last August, Fuzeon won a priority, six-month review from the Food and Drug Administration. - Sapa-AP

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