ChicagoTribune, May 2, 1011, by Bruce Japsen  —  Price of Kaletra — used in combination therapy — will drop 8 percent, to nearly $5,000 per year

Abbott Laboratories this week reduced the price of its popular AIDS drug Kaletra for some customers.

The move, disclosed Friday during the company’s annual shareholders meeting, comes amid reductions in government spending on programs for low-income Americans with HIV.

Cash-strapped states such as Illinois have curtailed eligibility for people enrolled in AIDS drug assistance programs, which also receive federal funds. Meanwhile, there has been an influx of applicants for AIDS drug assistance programs as people have lost jobs and their ability to pay for HIV prescriptions.

Starting in July, the Illinois Health Department will restrict the state’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program to “new applicants with incomes at or below 300 percent of the federal poverty level,” or $32,670 for a single individual. Currently, the qualification for the program is 500 percent of the federal poverty level, or $54,450 for a single person.

North Chicago-based Abbott on Friday said it reduced the price most AIDS drug assistance programs will pay for Kaletra by 8 percent, to $5,037 per year. Kaletra is a protease inhibitor, a key ingredient in the so-called cocktails of medicines HIV patients take to keep the virus in check.

More than 7,700 patients across the country are on waiting lists for drug assistance programs, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation said, citing state and federal records.

Miles White, Abbott chairman and chief executive, said the company has not raised the price of Kaletra since 2007, while some companies have increased prices on their AIDS drugs 5 to 6 percent annually.



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