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ASTRA TO SUPPORT KENNEDY FEDERAL DRUG PRICE REBATE LEGISLATION; TO DEVELOP VOLUNTARY DISCOUNT PROGRAM ON NEW AIDS DRUG, OTHER PRODUCTS

ASTRA TO SUPPORT KENNEDY FEDERAL DRUG PRICE REBATE LEGISLATION; TO DEVELOP VOLUNTARY DISCOUNT PROGRAM ON NEW AIDS DRUG, OTHER PRODUCTS
 WESTBOROUGH, Mass., Jan. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Astra Pharmaceutical Products, Inc., today said that it has sent a letter to U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) endorsing the passage of proposed legislation to extend the 12.5 percent drug price advantage now given to the Medicaid program to other government health programs funded under the Public Health Service Act.
 Astra also told Kennedy that the company will implement, by April 30, 1992, a voluntary program of drug discounts to PHS grantees and to State AIDS drug fund (HRSA) programs.
 "This voluntary program will involve all our pharmaceutical products," said Stefan Solvell, Astra's vice president for finance and administration. "Of particular importance, our new program will allow all AIDS patients with CMV retinitis who receive federal or state health benefits and require treatment with our drug, Foscavir (foscarnet sodium), to receive the drug at the same price now offered to the Medicaid program."
 The text of the letter, dated Jan. 24, to Kennedy from Astra CEO Lars Bildman follows:
 Astra has been privileged to work with your office on a number of health care issues of significance to our state and the country.
 Recently, we learned from your staff of your important legislation to extend to grantees under the Public Health Service Act (PHS) price discounts comparable to those pharmaceutical manufacturers give to Medicaid.
 We agree with you that PHS Act grantees are a critical force in meeting the health care needs of low-income persons. We are pleased to add Astra's voice to that of others in our industry in support of your legislation.
 Moreover, because improved access to needed drugs is a priority concern today, Astra will initiate, by April 30, 1992, a voluntary program of discounts to PHS grantees and State AIDS drug programs (HRSA) that is consistent with your legislative goals. We will keep your office informed as we work out the details of this program.
 As you may be aware from our meetings with you and your staff, Astra is committed to assuring full access to its pharmaceutical products so that they may benefit individuals who need them. In addition to Streptase (streptokinase), the least costly thrombolytic therapy for treating myocardial infarction, Astra has received two significant new drug approvals over the past six months -- Foscavir (foscarnet) for CMV retinitis in persons with AIDS and Toprol XL (metoprolol succinate) for the treatment of hypertension and angina pectoris. These new products have enabled us to increase our work force and strengthen our position as the largest pharmaceutical company headquartered in Massachusetts.
 Now, with the help of your initiative, we are hopeful that these new products will benefit a greater number of Americans who need then.
 -0- 1/27/92
 /CONTACT: Dr. Nigel Rulewski or Sara Martin-Munley, 508-366-1100; or Ken Rabin, 202-333-7400, all for Astra Pharmaceutical Products/ CO: Astra Pharmaceutical Products, Inc. ST: Massachusetts IN: HEA MTC SU: LEG


DC-MH -- DC019 -- 3850 01/27/92 15:03 EST
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Date:Jan 27, 1992
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