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More than 50 advocacy organizations are urging the federal government to allow a small Canadian company to make a generic version of a cancer medicine and sell it to poor countries.

In a Oct. 17 letter to the US Department of Health and Human Services, the groups argue that the company, Biolyse, should be allowed to sell a version of the Xtandi prostate cancer treatment to low- and middle-income countries because federally funded research was used to create the drug. In their view, the government holds a royalty-free license and can allow a third party to then market a generic.


At issue is the cost of Xtandi, which is sold by Astellas Pharma and has an average wholesale price in the United States of more than $129,000, which is about two to four times more than what other high-income countries are paying. Although advocacy groups did not offer specific price comparisons, they noted a generic version would be sold in countries with less than one-third of the per capita income of the US.

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