HIV Antiretrovirals Likely to Increase in Cost

New combination pills set to hit the market are expected to be more expensive than prior treatments.

New combination pills set to hit the market are expected to be more expensive than prior treatments.

Although once-daily, single-pill combination regimens to treat HIV show impressive efficacy and promote increased patient adherence, these new antiretrovirals may come with a hefty price tag, according to a report by GBI Research.

The report shows that since 2002, the annual costs for HIV treatment grew at a compound average growth rate (CAGR) of 3.2%, rising from $9971 to $12,829 in 2010. The global HIV therapeutics market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.5% between 2008 and 2015.

The HIV/AIDS therapeutics market is expanding, due to decreased mortality and increased treatment-seeking rates, according to the report.

Although the Sustiva (efavirenz) and Combivir (lamivudine and zidovudine) patents will expire soon, and new generics will be released to rival these expensive antiretrovirals, expensive newer drugs like Edurant (rilpivirine) are expected to minimize the impact of generics. The drugs now entering the market are also said to be more effective in tackling disease progression, according to the authors of the GBI report.

Currently, Gilead’s Atripla (efavirenz/emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate) holds roughly a two-thirds share of sales in the market, according to an article on The Street. Gilead received FDA approval for Complera (emtricitabine/rilpivirine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate) in August 2011, and its patent is not set to expire until 2023. The company also has the Quad pill in the pipeline, which could further offset the sales of generic equivalents.

The GBI report also noted that the United States spends almost twice as much on HIV therapies as the rest of the world, with an average annual expenditure of $11.4 billion.

The financial burden of antiretroviral therapies can be immense, and can account for much of an HIV/AIDS patient’s drug spend. Pharmacists can direct their patients to investigate patient assistance programs (PAPs) to obtain their antiretroviral medications at thebody.com, aidsmeds.com, and positivelyaware.com.