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California’s AIDS Drug Cuts ‘Life or Death’ for Patients

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AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, is joining a coalition of AIDS advocates and patients to protest drastic California budget cuts to lifesaving AIDS services—including California’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP)—that is jeopardizing the public health by eliminating the vast majority of funding for AIDS care and treatment, including lifesaving AIDS drugs. The California Assembly Health Committee will hold a hearing at the Ronald Reagan State Office Building in Downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday, December 1st—World AIDS Day—seeking comment and solutions to the drastic cuts. In conjunction with the hearing, AHF will host a MEDIA AVAILABILITY to propose changes to the state’s inept AIDS drug rebate program which rewards the industry with multi-million dollar corporate welfare at the expense of California AIDS patients, who are facing the loss of the very drugs that keep them alive.

What:

 

MEDIA AVAILABILITY— AHF calls for end to corporate welfare for AIDS drug companies as California AIDS patients face loss of lifesaving drugs

 

When:

Tuesday, Dec. 1st 10:00am—12:30pm

(After CA Assembly Health Committee Hearing at Ronald Reagan Bldg. in Los Angeles)
 

Where:

Ronald Reagan State Office Building, 300 S. Spring Street, 1st Floor, Los Angeles, CA

in conjunction with—California Assembly Health Committee Hearing--10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

‘World AIDS Day 2009: Need for Continued State Funding’

Chair, Assembly Member Dave Jones, (D, Sacramento).

 

Who:

Whitney Engeran-Cordova, Director, Public Health Division, AHF

Michael Weinstein, President, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (Via telephone)

 

Contacts:

Ged Kenslea,

AHF Director of Communications 323.308-1833 work; 323.791-5526 mobile

Lori Yeghiayan,

AHF Associate Director of Communications 323.308.1834 work; 323.377.4312 mobile

 

“As California grapples with an unprecedented budget shortfall and has slashed the state’s AIDS budget and services down to the bone, the drug industry continues to enjoy one of the most larded corporate welfare programs around. Through its drug rebate programs, the industry gouges the system by paying in arrears for drug discounts that should be credited to the state up front,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “Between 2000 and 2008, California’s AIDS drug bill also skyrocketed 165% to $272 million per year while enrollment in the state’s lifesaving AIDS Drug Assistance Program jumped only 49.5% during that time. Any new money that went to ADAP in recent years has gone straight to the industry for drug price increases—not to expand access for more patients or more drugs. The choice is clear: we can continue this corporate welfare—floating years-long loans to drug industry in the form of rebates—or we can save people’s lives. This is a life or death equation for California patients: these subsidies to Big Pharma are hurting patients. The state should not subsidize the drug industry as it takes lifesaving AIDS drugs out of the mouths of some of California’s most vulnerable citizens.”

The Gulf between California’s AIDS Drug Costs Versus the Number of Patients Served by ADAP

Between 2000 to 2008, the state’s AIDS drug bill for ADAP skyrocketed 165% to $272 million per year (up from $102.5 million in 2000) while enrollment in California’s ADAP jumped only 49.5%—serving 32,842 patients in 2008 up from 21,964 patients in 2000. The per capita expenditure for lifesaving antiretroviral therapy (ART) by California’s ADAP increased $3,607 per patient during the same time period, from $4,669 per patient in 2000 to $8,277 per patient in 2008—a 77% increase in drug prices per capita during the time period.

Background of Recent AIDS Cuts in California

Earlier this year, in an effort to resolve the state’s budget crisis, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cut many HIV/AIDS programs. These cuts amount to over $85 million in cuts and include: an 80% reduction in funding for Education & Prevention, a 70% cut in HIV Counseling and Testing, a 50% cut for Early Intervention (that provides primary medical care), a 100% cut in Therapeutic Monitoring Program (the program that monitors the effectiveness of HIV/AIDS drugs administered through the state’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program), a 20% cut in Housing and more than a 50% cut in funding for Home and Community-Based Care. A 100% cut to the Therapeutic Monitoring Program halts the ability of many safety net health care providers to monitor the effectiveness of lifesaving AIDS drugs. As a result, the state’s already cash-strapped AIDS Drug Assistance Program will only end up spending more for drugs.

“The AIDS service delivery system in California is collapsing. ADAP is the safety net for more than 30,000 Californians to stay alive. We have a moral responsibility to address this crisis. We cannot sacrifice the lives of our clients and patients in order to give PhARMA record profits. Failure is not an option,” said Whitney Engeran-Cordova, Director of AHF’s Public Health Division.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and services to more than 120,000 individuals in 23 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean the Asia/Pacific region and Eastern Europe. www.aidshealth.org

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