Battle over affordability of US funded prostate cancer drug Xtandi heats up! Read this!

A global battle over IP of all kinds is heating up. Unfortunately, IP "rights" which are a legal fiction that was made up by US in no small part, so countries could trade dirty things that were against the public interest without shame, out of sight.. Are becoming more and more an object of fixation by governbments such as our own, which seems to be on the side of the TNCs. Not the people, even in battles as important as this one! And the battle over affordability of COVID medicines.

Here is an announcement on the prostrate cancer drug enzalutamide, THE RESEARCH FOR WHICH WAS FUNDED BY US TAXPAYERS (NIH) and the US Army. .. (So based on a pre-neoliberal takeover law, which is still there, the patent should be public property) This drug is NOW so expensive ($150,000) that very few people with prostate cancer can afford it. Insurers don't cover it.
The battle for equitable patents needs your help!
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Greetings all,

This morning UAEM (North America) wrote to Secretary Becerra to join the
petitions before HHS to grant march-in rights on patents on the prostate
cancer drug Xtandi developed at UCLA with funds from NIH and DOD. UAEM UCLA
have successfully petitioned their own institution to make major changes to
their policies and we believe it is HHS' responsibility to become better
stewards of public funds. Given that in the US prostate cancer has the
widest racial disparities of any cancer, this is a matter of equity and
racial justice.

The letter is shared below and available on UAEM's website here

Dear Secretary Becerra,

Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) is a global network of
university students who believe that our universities have a responsibility
to improve global access to public health and life-saving medicines. We
write with the intention of joining the petitions before the Department of
Health and Human Services (HHS) to grant march-in rights on patents on the
prostate cancer drug Xtandi (enzalutamide). We also ask that HHS urgently
hold a public hearing to provide the supporters and the opponents of using
the march-in authority an opportunity to present evidence in support of
their positions.

In 2016, UAEM was among the organizations that petitioned the National
Institutes of Health (NIH) to grant a march-in request for Xtandi on the
grounds that the price in the United States was excessive and
discriminatory. U.S. residents were being charged the highest prices in the
world, by far, for a prostate cancer drug invented at the University of
California, Los Angeles (UCLA) on grants from the United States Army and
the NIH. The NIH rejected the 2016 case, on the grounds that Astellas only
had to make the product “available to the public,” and the NIH would not
enforce the requirement that the benefits of the inventions be made
available “to the public on reasonable terms.”

When UCLA students learned that their own public institution was also
complicit in preventing access to this life-saving medicine, they
organized. Outraged that the exorbitant price of Xtandi, developed on their
campus, would not be accessible domestically or globally to some of those
who would need it most, they pressured the university to introduce new
socially responsible licensing and won. The university introduced new
guidelines for ensuring access to all new medicines, but these guidelines
were not applied retrospectively to Xtandi, the drug that mobilized UCLA
students in the first place.

Prostate cancer has the widest racial disparities of any cancer. In the
U.S., Black men have twice the prostate cancer mortality and 60% greater
incidence than White men1. If the HHS were to decide not to grant march-in
rights on Xtandi, this decision would disproportionately impact the health
of Black men in the U.S., further exacerbating disparities in health
outcomes. Some reforms to control drug pricing will require hard
legislative action. This is not necessary in this case. The government must
act now for a case in which the pricing abuses are obvious. It is not
reasonable to charge a prostate cancer patient $157,000 per year to treat a
common form of cancer, when no other high income country pays anything
remotely as high. The public clearly wants the government to act now to
deal with the problem of high drug prices –The May 2021 KFF Health Tracking
Poll found about two-thirds of adults say there is “not as much regulation
as there should be” when it comes to limiting the price of prescription

Now is the time to take action. Due consideration in this case means
publicly acknowledging whether a company, located in Japan, can charge U.S.
residents 3 to 5 times more for a cancer drug invented at UCLA with federal
grants. It is also the case that a rejection of this petition will
encourage corporations to steeply raise prices even more at the expense of
people’s lives. After the NIH denied the 2016 March-In Rights request for
Xtandi put forward by our organization and others, Pfizer and Astellas did
just this. From 2015 to 2019, the average price of a 40 mg capsule of
Xtandi to the U.S. Medicare program increased from $73.94 to $97.81, an
increase of more than 32 percent3.

Request to join outstanding petitions

On November 18, 2021, Robert Sachs and Clare Love petitioned the Secretary
of Health and Human Services (HHS), Xavier Beccera, requesting that HHS
grant march-in rights for the patents on Xtandi. Eric Sawyer requested to
join the petition on December 13, 2021. UAEM requests to join the
outstanding petitions of Robert Sachs, Clare Love, and Eric Sawyer that are
currently before HHS. UAEM is aware of their requests for an administrative
hearing on the Xtandi petition, and we urgently support that request as we

If UAEM students, as America’s future doctors, lawyers, and leaders, have
been advocating that their own institution UCLA must be a better stewards
of public funds, so must HHS. This is not only a matter of equity but a
pressing concern of racial justice.


Merith Basey

*Merith Basey MSc* (she/her)
Executive Director, North America
Universities Allied for Essential Medicines
@uaem @globalDiaBEATes

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It's Limbo time! How low can you go, greedy capitalists? We have elections so these people can prosper.

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