The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) is currently reviewing whether to proceed with the request that the government use its rights in the prostate cancer drug Xtandi, in order to enable generic competition and lower the price of the treatment. The initial petitioners on the request are four prostate cancer patients, and more patients have offered their voices of support for the request.
On January 26, 2022, Robert Mermell sent a letter of support for the Xtandi petition to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and Acting Director of the NIH Office of Science Policy Lyric Johnson. Mr. Mermell is a prostate cancer patient and details his experience with affording Xtandi and his outrage for the price discrimination the government is allowing to happen.
A PDF of the letter is available here, and the text of the letter follows below.
Secretary Xavier Becerra
Acting Director Lyric Johnson
NIH Office of Science Policy
6705 Rockledge Drive, Suite 750
Bethesda, MD 20892
January 26, 2022
Dear Secretary Becerra and Acting Director Johnson:
I am writing to express my strong support for the march-in request currently before the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regarding the pricing for the prostate cancer medicine Xtandi.
By supporting the march-in request and allowing the generic manufacturing of Xtandi you will reduce a significant and unjust financial burden on prostate cancer patients like me. In the summer of 2020 I was briefly placed on Xtandi. Filling one prescription for the drug cost $625.70, out of pocket.
As retired small business owners, my wife and I watch our expenses. While we have been fortunate compared to so many, shelling out over $600 every time I need a prescription filled does not go unnoticed in our monthly budget. At a time when our sole focus should be on health, and spending time together as a family, drugs like Xtandi force families to focus on – and worry about – price tags.
As horrified as I was by the cost of Xtandi, I was even more upset when I learned about the disparities between what American patients pay for this drug and what patients in countries like Japan, Canada, and France pay. I’m glad that patients around the world have affordable access to the health care they need – that is a right every human should enjoy. But why are Americans suffering under the high costs of prescription drugs like Xtandi? More directly, why is my government allowing Americans to suffer under the high costs of prescription drugs like Xtandi when the option to exercise march-in rights and allow generic manufacturing exists?
I have deep gratitude for the scientists behind the pharmaceutical innovations that have been crucial to my seventeen year battle with prostate cancer. But cancer patients cannot pay for their life-saving medicines in gratitude.
Please allow American prostate cancer patients the same right to access affordable care as patients around the world. Please allow us to focus on our health and our families rather than on dollars and cents. Please put people over profits. Please support the march-in request regarding Xtandi.
I thank you for your consideration and for your service. I am available for any questions at the address below or at [Redacted for Privacy].
Robert H. Mermell
[Redacted for Privacy]