Astellas Pharma, a drug company headquartered in Japan, is charging U.S. patients $156,000 a year for the prostate cancer drug Xtandi (enzalutamide) — more than three to five times what it charges residents of other wealthy countries, and five times more than it charges in Japan. Adding insult to injury, Xtandi was discovered by scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, with grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Army.
A petition that has languished before the Army since 2019 was recently forwarded to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). It asks the government to protect taxpayers from Xtandi’s excessive price by exercising “march-in rights” for the drug. This would require HHS to make a modest determination: that it is unreasonable to force Americans to pay three to five times more than people in other high-income countries for a drug developed with U.S. taxpayers’ dollars.