Bayer Agrees to Lower Price of Cipro After Thompson Demand
HHS officials announced last night that Bayer AG has agreed to lower the price of its antibiotic Cipro for the federal government after the Bush administration threatened to override the drug's patent and allow cheaper production, the New York Times reports. HHS spokesperson Kevin Keane said that the company had agreed "in principle" to sell 100 million doses of Cipro to the federal government at a price of less than $1 per pill, a nearly 50% reduction from the current price of $1.83 per tablet. Bayer officials "confirmed" the agreement but "refused to discuss the price." The concession came after HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson "publicly demanded" earlier in the day that Bayer match the prices offered by generic drug makers who said they could produce a generic copy of Cipro if the federal government chose to override Bayer's patent, which expires in 2003. The demand "represented a nearly complete reversal" of Thompson's position last week, when he "emphasiz[ed] his desire to safeguard the patent system" (Bradsher/Andrews, New York Times, 10/24). Some officials and lawmakers advocating generic production have questioned whether Bayer could meet the government's demand for Cipro, one of the most widely used drugs to treat anthrax. But Thompson told a House panel that "price is the question, not the supply" (AP/Nando Times, 10/23). The demand to lower prices "appeared" to catch Bayer officials "off guard," the Times reports (New York Times, 10/24). "They're in shock," Thompson said (Dougherty, Washington Times, 10/24).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.