Abbott To Offer Arthritis Drug Free to Seniors Without Prescription Drug Coverage
Officials at Abbott Laboratories yesterday announced that the company will offer the rheumatoid arthritis treatment Humira at no cost to Medicare beneficiaries without prescription drug coverage, the Wall Street Journal reports. Abbott officials hope that the "unusually aggressive" move will allow Humira, approved by the FDA late last month, to "seize market share quickly as a new entry in the highly competitive" $3 billion market for arthritis treatments, the Journal reports (Burton, Wall Street Journal, 1/7). Humira must compete with Remicade, a Johnson & Johnson rheumatoid arthritis treatment that Medicare covers, and Enbrel, manufactured by Amgen, and would have "less chance of being prescribed if it weren't given away free," the Chicago Tribune reports. Abbott officials also hope that Congress this year will pass a Medicare prescription drug benefit, a move that could lead to increased sales for Humira. The decision to offer Humira free to many seniors has received support from some members of Congress as well as some Bush administration officials (Japsen, Chicago Tribune, 1/7). Abbott officials expect Humira, which the company sells to wholesalers for $1,100 per one-month supply, to earn about $1 billion in annual sales, although they have not made sales estimates for this year (Heldt Powell, Boston Herald, 1/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.