SAN ANSELMO, CA - NOVEMBER 23:  Bottles of antiretroviral drug Truvada are displayed at Jack's Pharmacy on November 23, 2010 in San Anselmo, California. A study published by the New England Journal of Medicine showed that men who took the daily antiretroviral pill Truvada significantly reduced their risk of contracting HIV. (Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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Lawsuit filed against pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences for allegedly withholding safer HIV drug

The company is reportedly withholding a safer version of a HIV drug with less side-effects to exploit patent laws

2018-11-22

Words: Steve Brown

A lawsuit has been filed against pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences for allegedly ‘intentionally withholding’ a safer drug for HIV treatments.

Gilead Sciences reportedly hold a patent on Tenofovir Disoproxil Fumarate (TDF), which is a drug sold as part of medications routinely taken by people with HIV to help regulate their viral load.

Now, a lawsuit – by Morgan & Morgan, Ben Crump Law and Hilliard Martinez Gonzales - was filed in the US federal court last week and claims the company is withholding a safer version of the drug with less side-effects to exploit patent laws.

It alleges that the company plan to start rolling out the safer version of the drug called Tenofovir Alafenamide Fumarate (TAF) when the patent on TDF expires in 2021.

The lawsuit is caliming that the pharmaceutical giant is ‘intentionally withholding [TAF]…. From hundreds of thousands of patients in order to extend the profitability of the patent.”

More than 70 per cent of all new HIV diagnoses in 2017 were in gay and bisexual men or transgender women, with African-Americans and Latino Americans being disproportionately impacted by the drug policy, the attorneys highlighted.

Crump, a civil rights attorney, said: “Gilead’s chosen path of inaction is causing tremendous harm to persons with HIV, particularly black and LGBT minorities, by keeping drugs that would reduce deadly symptoms off the market and unavailable to those who need them the most.

“This lawsuit is a major step in the right direction toward racial equity in communities unevenly affected by HIV and exploited by pharmaceutical goliaths like Gilead.

“This new lawsuit seeks justice for underrepresented communities, providing a voice to those who may not have ever received one otherwise.

“As long as Gilead continues to cravenly value profits over people, people living with HIV/Aids will suffer from a lower quality of life. This must stop.”

Attorney Bob Hilliard added: “For nearly two decades, Gilead has been raking in billions of dollars each year from the sale of the TDF-containing drugs that are the subject of our lawsuit—medications used primarily for treatment of people living with HIV.

“Gilead openly markets TAF as a safer alternative to TDF. We believe the evidence will show that Gilead withheld the equally effective but safer medication for one primary reason—billions in profits.

“If Gilead withheld TAF during its patent exclusivity with regard to TDF, Gilead could maximize its profits by monopolizing the market during the exclusivity period, releasing TAF prior to expiration of TDF exclusivity, and encouraging prescribers to switch patients from TDF to the safer TAF medications before entry of generic TDF into the market.

“This is what Gilead did do, and people living with HIV paid the price.

“Our lawsuit seeks recovery for those hurt by Gilead’s greed, and to hold Gilead accountable for choosing profits over people.”