Burroughs Wellcome Co., developer of AZT, the first drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) approved, finds himself under siege in September 1989 from AIDS activists and various segments of the U.S. government . Despite repeated calls over the past two years at the price of AZT (protected Retrovie), Burroughs Wellcome and its parent company, to reduce the London-based Wellcome PLC, have refused, claiming that the $ 6,300 annual … Read more »

Burroughs Wellcome Co., developer of AZT, the first drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) approved, finds himself under siege in September 1989 from AIDS activists and various segments of the U.S. government . Despite repeated calls over the past two years at the price of AZT (protected Retrovie), Burroughs Wellcome and its parent company, to reduce London-based Wellcome PLC, have refused, claiming that the $ 6,300 per year (wholesale) cost of is justified drug per person, based on high associated research, development, production, and other costs associated with the drug. The lawyers of the opponents accusing them of using an existing chemical compound, abundant government research assistance and cooperative arrangements in order to gain a monopoly on the only approved treatment for people with AIDS. The case gives students the opportunity to the economics and regulation of the pharmaceutical industry to explore, wrestle with the ethics of medicine prices and analyze the formulation of public relations strategies on the part of both private companies and activists in the age of AIDS.

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Willis Emmons,
Ashok Nimgade
Source: Harvard Business School
20 pages.
Release Date: 09 September, 1991. Prod #: 792 004 PDF-ENG
Burroughs Wellcome and AZT (A) HBR case solution