Gilead Science will need to answer the complaint the administration brought forth after the administration alleges the company is profiting off the work of researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Gilead should respect the patent system put in place, and acknowledge the taxpayer contributions that led to the creation of the drugs. He said the complaint was filed to make sure the company respects the work done.
According to the HHS, Gilead knowingly infringed on the department’s patents. The agency said Gilead has made money off the research the taxpayers help to fund, bringing in billions of dollars from the PrEP drugs via Truvada and Descovy.
Although the government had been working toward an agreement with the company, Gilead had frequently refused to attain a license for any HHS patents.
The administration’s action comes after The Washington Post reported on the stalemate between the CDC, National Institutes of Health and Gilead over the Truvada patent. According to the report, researchers and activists were growing increasingly aggravated with the lack of government action on the manufacturer’s defiance, even though it won patents back in 2015.
Gilead disputes the government’s patents, saying it filed a formal challenge to them in August.
According to HIV activists, the move the government has taken is the first to ensure Truvada for PrEP is more accessible to everyone.
Truvada is one key in eradicating HIV and AIDS by 2030, which was the administration’s goal. However, the drug cost $20,000 a year – something public health officials and activists have complained loudly about. Gilead made $3 billion in Truvada sales alone in 2018.
PrEP 4All Collaboration said Gilead has been price gouging the drug for at least 10 years, making it inaccessible to hundreds of thousands of Americans even though it’s a taxpayer-funded invention.
If HHS really wants to end the HIV epidemic, it can use the patents for leverage to make sure everybody who needs PrEP will be able to use it.
Truvada’s prevention use for HIV was discovered in the mid-2000s by scientists at the CDC.
In Gilead’s challenge, it said independent researchers had come up with the idea of Truvada being used as a prevention method for HIV before the CDC applied for the patent.
Written by Mark Riegel, MD
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