State Declines To Disclose Terms of Purchasing Agreement for Hepatitis Treatment
State officials said California will save more than $1 million under a contract to buy the hepatitis C medication pegylated interferon from drug maker Roche but declined to disclose the terms of the contract, the Sacramento Bee reports.
The contract was entered through the Department of General Services' strategic outsourcing program, which negotiates with suppliers to get lower prices on frequently used goods and services. According to the Bee, other contracts secured under the strategic outsourcing have been "announced with fanfare," but neither the state nor Roche issued a press release on the drug contract. The contract was signed Feb. 28 and took effect April 1.
DGS purchases medications for the California Youth Authority and the departments of Mental Health, Developmental Services and Corrections, which provide care for institutionalized populations.
DGS spokesperson Matt Bender said the state previously bought all hepatitis treatments from one company.
State officials decided to negotiate simultaneously with Roche and competitor Schering-Plough for pegylated interferon in pursuit of a lower price.
Bender said, "We wanted a better price and offered both companies an opportunity to negotiate. Roche offered the best price." He said the terms of the contract are confidential.
Roche spokesperson Mike Nelson said, "The terms of business contracts are routinely kept confidential for commercial reasons."
A spokesperson for Schering-Plough declined to comment, the Bee reports.
Kathay Feng, executive director of California Common Cause, said state drug pricing information should be released upon request. "It's public funds going to purchase the drugs, and it should be pubic information," she said.
Feng said the state should share pricing information for hepatitis C treatments with potential local purchasers of such treatments, adding that some local agencies are considering joining together to negotiate bulk purchasing contracts (McIntosh, Sacramento Bee, 5/20).