Judit Rius Sanjuan, Access Campaign manager & legal policy advisor at Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), made the following statement after KaloBios Pharmaceuticals obtained bankruptcy court permission to keep pursing a drug that could receive a US Federal Drug Administration Priority Review Voucher (PRV). KaloBios announced in December its intent to register benznidazole—which MSF uses to treat Chagas disease in Latin America—in the United States to obtain a PRV and then charge a high price.
"Once again a pharmaceutical company is trying to abuse a US government program designed to promote biomedical research and development and create lifesaving medicines for neglected patients. Today, KaloBios Pharmaceuticals confirmed that they will continue to push to buy the rights to a 40-year-old drug, benznidazole, in order to obtain a US Federal Drug Administration Priority Review Voucher. As Congress considers adding Zika to the list of diseases eligible for this lucrative reward, they must also immediately fix the critical flaws with the program and make sure companies that are rewarded with a voucher are actually creating new products that are available and affordable to patients and treatment providers. Once again, we're calling on lawmakers to fix this program so it helps people suffering from fatal neglected diseases instead of companies just looking to rake in huge profits."
MSF recently sent a letter with others to the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) leadership urging them to make critical fixes to the PRV program.