Among the comments that KEI filed today in the 2014 Special 301 Review process were comments regarding pharmaceutical companies’ donation and patient assistance programs. An oft-cited claim by pharmaceutical companies and those lobbying on their behalf is that donations and patient assistance programs fully provide for those that cannot afford the high priced medications offered by the companies. During the hearing for the Special 301 Report process as well as the US International Trade Commission hearing on Indian trade policy, industry speakers repeated this claim as the response to how companies are ensuring access to life-saving drugs for poor patients who cannot afford drug prices that are sometimes several times their total annual incomes.
The question then naturally arises, what is the extent of these programs? KEI conducted a brief survey of major pharmaceutical companies’ patient assistance programs and found that this information was not readily available. In order to make fully-informed decisions in the Special 301 Review process, the USTR needs better data on patient assistance programs, particularly for patients with cancer living in developing countries.
See the attached file below for the full reply comments filed, regarding drug company patient assistance programs.