Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Watson and Savient's Disregard to the HIV community

Read this great article published in the Bay Area Reporter for background information on this problem:



On March 20, Watson drops nandrolone, a low cost anabolic used off label for HIV wasting. Patients found out when they went to their pharmacies for a prescription a week later. A prescription for 200 mg a week of nandrolone costs around $200 a month. Some people with wasting may have to use 400 mg a week, for a cost of $400 a month. Several insurance companies pay for it and others refuse to pay based on the fact that nandrolone is not approved for wasting but for anemia. Thirteen out of 50 AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs) cover payment for this generic, cheap and effective drug. Watson is the only supplier to pharmacies and ADAPs in the U.S. and they gave no notice to HIV patients and their physicians. We find out why later...

We made calls to Watson and we were told that they stopped nandrolone due to problems with raw material supply. We later confirmed that this is not true; there are several raw material manufacturers of nandrolone in the U.S.



Oxandrin is an oral anabolic steroid used in HIV wasting and it is approved to treat unintentional weight loss due to illness. It has been shown to be midly effective in men, women and kids with HIV wasting. The plus of this drug is that it can be taken by mouth daily (nandrolone needs to be injected in the butt once a week) and that it is approved for a weight loss related indication. The minus of Oxandrin is its high cost and potential for liver toxicty (nandrolone is a lot cheaper and it does not affect the liver)

Savient Pharmaceuticals that informed patients in April 2007 that they stopped their 10 year old patient assistance program (PAP) tha gave free Oxandrin to HIV patients with no insurance and third-party payment sources. Oxandrin, an oral anabolic used for weight gain in HIV, costs $1300 a month and most people cannot afford it. This PAP was set up by BTG Pharmaceuticals (bought out by Savient later on) after activists like Michael Mooney, Al Benson and myslef reminded them how cheap it was to make Oxandrin and how upset the AIDS community would be with an overpriced old product that could save lives. Oxandrin is an old drug sold in the 1960'2 as Anavar that costed cents a day back then. BTG brought it up back to the market at over $1000 a month. Only 13 states include Oxandrin in the ADAPs (AIDS Drug Assistance Programs-PAP), so many patients will have no way to afford this drug. Savient informed patients that Watson Pharmaceutical was to sell a generic Oxandrin, and thus, there was no further need for patient assistance. But when we checked, the generic price for Oxandrin sold by Watson is no diferent than the brand name product, which will still be sold by Savient. Watson will not provide an Oxandrin PAP either. This is a really bad move from both companies that have no regard to people with AIDS wasting. This is the first time in AIDS history that a company stops a PAP while still selling the drug. In a conference call with Savient on May 1, 2007, they informed us that their PAP administrator LASH called patients who were getting free Oxandrin to offer other options but patients declined help. We find this impossible to believe and so far have not been able to confirm.

Unlike nandrolone, Oxandrin (oxandrolone) can increase liver enzymes and is a problem in people with liver disease, taking some HIV medications like Reyataz, those with Hepatitis B and C, etc Oxandrin has an indication for the treatment of weight loss due to illness but nandrolone is indicated for anemia, so it is used off label for wasting. Oxandrin and nandrolone are covered by 13 out of 50 ADAPs (AIDS Drugs Assistance Programs,one per state)

A month supply of Oxandrin (brand name or generic) is around $1300 for 20 mg a day. Nandrolone 's is around $200 a month for 200 mg a week (from Watson), or $48 a month if you get it from compounding pharmacies. Compounding pharmacies can also make Oxandrin (oxandrolone) at $230 a month. Compounding pharmacies are small companies that make product legally in small quantities for patients, with a physician's prescription. Most doctors and patients do not know about this option.


Nandrolone and oxandrolone can also be made by compounding pharmacies at a lower cost, but those pharmacies are at risk of being shutting down. The DEA has raided several in the past few months, according to one of the owners of applied pharmacy. The FDA along with Sen Kennedy have tried to more heavily regulated this pharmacies.

On Aug. 30, 2006, the patient community had a legal victory in a Texas courtroom. U.S. District Court Judge Robert Junell ruled that “it is in the best interest of public health” to uphold the legality of compounded drugs. In the past, FDA had proposed that, even though it is impossible to do so, compounded medicines must meet the same new drug requirements to which mass produced, one-size-fits-all, manufactured products are subjected and that compounded medicines are illegal unless they do so. Ten pharmacies took the FDA to court in 2004 on the grounds that this theory was incorrect. The Court sided with the pharmacies. The pharmacies are harassed regularly by the DEA and know that it is a matter of time for a counter attack.
You can read about this story here:

Our non profit group , Program for Wellness Restoration (www.powerusa.org ) has been working with www.AppliedPharmacyRx.com in the past 10 years to obtain economical nandrolone, oxandrolone, and testosterone gels and injections. There are several other compounding pharmacies that we are exploring now. We are also trying to inform AIDS Patient Assistance Programs about this option so that they do not drop nandrolone from formulary and they save money by buying compounded nandrolone at a price 3.3 cheaper than Watson's and by buying generic Oxandrin (oxandrolone) from these pharmacies at a price 5 times cheaper than what they currently buy it from Savient or Watson.

1 comment:

compound pharmacy said...

I like your blog.Its very informative.A "compounding pharmacy" is a pharmacy that will take one type of medication and put it with another medicine or another type of vehicle in which to give the medicine. For instance, say that you had a cat that wouldn't take it's medicine - I would call up this compounding pharmacy and ask them to grind up the pills and put it into a specially flavored medicine (triple fish works well). Or - they could put it into a gel that we could put on the cat's ear - and it would go through the skin Or you could mix two medicines together, etc. They also sell medicines like a regualar
pharmacies. Hoope that helps!