Missouri prepares for lottery to allocate costly AIDS drugs

November 24, 1996|By KANSAS CITY STAR

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Early next month, someone at the Missouri Department of Health will pull 132 random numbers from a computer, and all over the state people with AIDS will find out which of them has a chance at a longer, healthier life.

Faced with need that outstrips its budget, Missouri will hold the nation's first lottery to decide who gets costly new AIDS drugs called protease inhibitors.

Protease inhibitors combined with older drugs such as AZT can reduce the amount of HIV -- the AIDS virus -- in some patients' blood to virtually undetectable levels and prolong their lives. They have been in general use for less than a year.

A year's supply of one of the three protease inhibitors available, along with the two other drugs typically given with it, can cost $12,000 to $16,000 a person.

The expense is forcing states to ration protease inhibitors and other AIDS medications for people not covered by private insurance or Medicaid.

Pub Date: 11/24/96

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