Norplant debate: dollars v. sense. Is Norplant discount in U.S. too little, too late?

Family Plan World. Jan-Feb 1994;4(1):1, 12.


PIP: At a Congressional hearing of the pricing strategy for Norplant, and after several family planning specialists testified that Norplant's cost ($365) makes it inaccessible to many US women, Wyeth-Ayerst announced that, in 2 years, it would provide Norplant to public sector family planning clinics at a discount price. Just 1.4% of clients at Planned Parenthood clinics choose Norplant, because it is too costly. While Title X clinic officials are pleased with this announcement, many family planning providers wonder what the manufacturer's motives are. The president of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association believes that the announcement is a press ploy. The Wyeth spokesperson said the original licensing agreement with the Population Council allowed a public sector price 5 years after Norplant's introduction in the US market. The 5-year delay was intended to build private sector support and to allow Wyeth to recover its marketing and training expenses. Wyeth also wanted Norplant to become a mainstream contraceptive, so it became concerned about the private sector. Yet, the law requires a 15% rebate for qualified public health clinics now. Few family planners expressed praise for Wyeth, since it revealed no details on the public sector price. Further, health care reform may alter drug pricing before the 2-year period. In early 1994, Wyeth's exclusive patent on Norplant and on levonorgestrel expires, allowing other companies to enter the implant market. Yet, other companies need at least 1 year to negotiate with the US Food and Drug Administration for approval, thereby allowing Wyeth a window to dominate the market. Thus, by the time the 2 years is up, the discount will have no meaning. Family planners have criticized Wyeth for not offering a public sector discount for a long time, especially since public funds contributed to Norplant's development. Wyeth's only contribution was levonorgestrel. It allowed the Population Council to use levonorgestrel in exchange for the right to market Norplant in the US and Canada.

MeSH terms

  • Americas
  • Consumer Product Safety*
  • Contraception
  • Costs and Cost Analysis*
  • Developed Countries
  • Economics
  • Family Planning Services
  • Legislation as Topic
  • Marketing of Health Services
  • North America
  • Poverty*
  • Private Sector*
  • Public Sector*
  • Social Class
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States