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U.S. set on getting Cipro for under $1 a pill

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The federal government is hoping to buy Cipro, the antibiotic most effective against anthrax, at less than $1 a pill, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said Tuesday.

The limited supply and high cost of Cipro, the Germany-based Bayer AG's name for its patented version of ciprofloxacin, has led to suggestions that Congress allow other companies to make cheaper, generic versions of the drug.

Bayer has been charging the government $1.87 a pill.

"We are going to be under one dollar, I can assure you," Thompson said in a taping of CNN's "Larry King Live," to be broadcast Tuesday night.

"I'm a tough negotiator from Wisconsin and they [Bayer] are going to either meet our price, which will be less than $1, or else we'll go to Congress and ask for some support to go in and do some other business."

Thompson noted that Canada, which had announced it would allow companies to make generic versions of Cipro, "just backed off of that position" and "entered into an agreement with Bayer to purchase Cipro from Bayer for $1.30 a pill. And I want to tell you, I've negotiated with Bayer and were going to buy it much cheaper than that."

Bayer, which holds the patent on Cipro through 2003, has promised to triple its production and ship 200 million tablets in the next three months.


• U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
• U.S. Public Health Service
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
• Federal Bureau of Investigation
• U.S. Attorney General

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