Is pricing of dolutegravir equitable? A comparative analysis of price and country income level in 52 countries
AbstractObjectives: Differences in marketed prices of antiretrovirals raises questions about the fairness of pricing medicines of significant public health importance such as dolutegravir (DTG). In view of the reduced prices of generically available efavirenz (EFV), there is a need to determine if previous conclusions on DTG’s cost-effectiveness need to be re-assessed Methods: Lowest list prices of DTG were extracted from national drug price or reimbursement databases for 52 countries. Price was recorded as US$ per person-year (ppy). We compared the price of DTG to minimum costs of production and reduced prices of EFV, as well as assessed the correlation with gross domestic product (GDP) per capita and HIV epidemic size in three income classification groups (‘high’, ‘upper middle-income’, ‘lower middle or low-income’). Results: Annual prices of DTG ranged from $27 per person-year in Georgia to $20,130 in the USA . Within each income group, there was no observable relationship between DTG prices, GDP per capita and HIV epidemic size. Median price in countries excluded from voluntary licensing agreements ($8718) was >140 times higher than countries included ($60). Price of DTG was >500% higher than EFV in many countries. Three full economic evaluations from high-income settings that compared DTG against EFV all used branded drug prices of EFV-based regimens as cost inputs to evaluate DTG’s cost-effectiveness. Conclusions: This study highlights the wide disparity in prices of DTG across countries, even when segregated by similar income levels. The cost-effectiveness of DTG versus EFV should be re-evaluated now that low-cost generic EFV has become widely available.