Leukemia Patients are dying because of the outrageously high drug price:

Giant Pharma Novartis' greed and South Korean Government's incompetency made this fatal situation

December 1st, 2001
People's Health Coalition for Equitable Society

Novartis stopped Glivec supply to South Korea on 27th Nov.

Glivec was once called drug of miracle' because it can treat the CML(Chronic Myelogenic Leukemia) patients who are refractory to all possible treatments. But now Glivec is the name of death because Novartis suspended Glivec supply to South Korea. As the insurance price was not settled, the patients could only afford the drug by getting loans. And they are now expelled from hospital aseptic rooms because there is no drug they can take any more.

Is the single worldwide price more important than hundreds of patients' lives?

The suspension is because of the fact that Novartis failed to get the insurance price they wanted for Glivec in the negotiation with South Korean government. The negotiation had been held since July. The company wants single worldwide price of 25,000 won(19.50 USD)/pill. The US and Swiss had accepted this price and also Japan government while the negotiation was underway in South Korea. And these three countries have the highest drug prices in the world. Novartis had been talking with leukemia patients one by one saying it would exempt patient copayment of 30% if the patients make the government to accept the price. But the leukemia patients didn't yield to this proposal because of the thought that this decision can affect other patients and price settlement procedures of other drugs. And now, Novartis decided to kill these patients.

Murder by patent

Threatening patients' lives to get single worldwide price; Novartis can do this because there is only one company in the world allowed to manufacture Glivec. Patients have to take 4 to 8 pills a day. It costs 78 to 156 USD a day, 2,340 to 4,680 USD a month. Irresponsible South Korean government only wanted to preserve National Health Budget by excluding chronic phase CML patients from insurance coverage, rather than try to cut the price down through the negotiation. But, we are not fools. We know that R&D cost of Glivec was mostly payed through public money, manufacturing cost would be 1-tenths of the price claimed by Novartis, Glivec could be in market even before completion of 3rd phase clinical trial because of the efforts taken by the patients themselves, and the clinical trials underway are mostly supported by NIH through public money. We cannot get the life-saving, and existing medicine because we cannot afford it, and we have to die because of the situation, and it is only to add a relatively little amount to already astronomical profit of Novartis. This is not what we can accept nor permit.


Contact Information:

Hae-joo Chung
Director, EquiPharm project,
4th floor, ShinSung Building, 8-48,
GalWul-Dong, YongSan-Gu, Seoul, South Korea
(zip 140-801)
tel +82-2-774-8774, fax +82-2-774-8773
peasnhr@hotmail.com, tsmyr@jinbo.net=20

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