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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

Wellcome 'Price Cut' in Aids Drug War


Financial Times (04/28/94) P. 7

Wellcome slashed the cost of its AIDS drug AZT by 56 percent in Portugal, where a small pharmaceutical firm marketed a cheaper version of zidovudine in a challenge to Wellcome's worldwide patents. The Portuguese company, Farma APS, beat Wellcome out for a contract to supply the drug to Sao Joao Hospital in Oporto, said the company's director-general, Augusto Paiva dos Santos. Farma sells a Canadian-manufactured version of the drug, called Apo-Zidovudine, at 33 percent below Wellcome's previous price. Paiva dos Santos said that Wellcome had cut the price of Retrovir, its version of zidovudine, by 50 percent and 56 percent, respectively, in bids for two other Portuguese hospital contracts that have yet to be awarded. "The fact that Wellcome has lowered its prices to less than half of what it is charging in the rest of Europe shows it must be making a fabulous profit on AZT," Paiva dos Santos commented. But he said his company's prices were still lower than those tendered by the British rival. He also said Farma APS may register Apo-Zidovudine for sale in other European Union countries, as well as in Eastern Europe.


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