Biden administration will not pursue action to lower cancer drug price

The Biden administration has denied a petition that would have reduced the price of Xtandi, a drug developed at the University of California, Los Angeles, to treat prostate cancer.

The drug's development was funded by taxpayers through the Defense Department and the National Institutes of Health, according to the Los Angeles Times. Since its market approval, Xtandi's manufacturing license has been obtained by pharmaceutical giants like Pfizer and Japanese drugmaker Astellas.  

Astellas in particular has hiked up Xtandi's prices significantly since — by more than 75 percent — drawing criticism from many, including Sen. Bernie Sanders. The Biden administration's decision could have lowered costs for consumers significantly — which some feel is what should have happened in line with the "march-in authority" tool.

March-in authority essentially ensures that taxpayer-funded developments are made accessible and affordable. However, in this case, the march-in authority petition was rejected because the NIH said at this time Xtandi is "widely available to the public," according to a March 21 letter.

"I am extremely disappointed that the Biden Administration denied a petition by prostate cancer patients to substantially reduce the price of Xtandi. This is a drug that was invented with taxpayer dollars by scientists at UCLA and can be purchased in Canada for one-fifth the U.S. price," Mr. Sanders said in a March 21 statement. "How many prostate cancer patients will die because they cannot afford this unacceptable price? As the chairman of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, I will do everything I can to take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry and make sure that drugs that are developed with U.S. taxpayer money are sold here at a reasonable price."

The decision also comes amid an ongoing shortage of several other cancer drugs nationwide.

Becker's reached out to UCLA for comment on the Biden administration's decision. We will update this story as more information becomes available.

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