Lawmakers target makers of pricey prostate cancer drug Xtandi
Lawmakers target makers of pricey prostate cancer drug Xtandi

On Tuesday, Medivation Incorporated shares fell after a group of lawmakers began a campaign to cut the price of an advanced prostate cancer drug, Xtandi, which as per them has been developed at UCLA via taxpayer-backed research grants.

In the United States, the drug is marketed jointly by San Francisco-based Medivation and its partner, Astellas Pharma Inc., which is a Japanese drug-maker. Xtandi is sold outside the US by Astellas.

Reps. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have written a letter to the heads of the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), wherein they have asked the agencies to do something to slash prices for Xtandi. They said that the cost of the drug is four times high in the US as compared to a few other developed nations.

They have urged for public hearings related to the drug. The motive of lawmakers is to make NIH consider overriding the patent of Xtandi, which has been guaranteeing Medivation and Astellas exclusive sales for over ten years. With the overriding of the patent, the price of Xtandi could be reduced.

In a statement, the lawmakers said, “Under current law, NIH can take this step if federal funds supported a drug's development and the company is selling it at an unreasonably high price”.

Xtandi has an average list price of over $129,000 a year in the US, even with insurers negotiating major discounts. Normally, patients take it for several months. As per the statement, in countries like Japan and Sweden, Xtandi is sold for $39,000 and for $30,000 in Canada.

In a response on Tuesday, Astellas said that the campaign started by lawmakers hasn’t reflected what is actually paid by insurers or patients for Xtandi.