November 11, 2019 – Treatment Action Group (TAG) welcomes the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) pursuit of a lawsuit against Gilead Sciences, Inc., the manufacturer of Truvada and Descovy, the only two FDA-approved pills for pre-exposure prophlyaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV. The suit is the result of months of pressure by activists who have rightly asserted that tenofovir-based PrEP research was underwritten by U.S. taxpayers, many of whom remain shut-out from accessing PrEP due to financial barriers arising directly from the corporate price gouging.
For years, the drugmaker Gilead has profited off of taxpayer funded research by charging excessive prices for PrEP. Gilead’s high pricing has limited the scope of initiatives to end the HIV epidemic—particularly among low-income communities and communities of color. While TAG and allies call for a dramatic overhaul of the current U.S. patent system, in the meantime, TAG urges the U.S. government to capitalize on this opportunity to hold Gilead accountable for its profiteering and invest any financial compensation in strategies to scale up PrEP to achieve the vision of ending the HIV epidemic in the U.S.
“Ultimately, this must be about immediate and dramatically scaled up access to PrEP for the most marginalized communities in America. For months, advocates have called on the US government to vigorously defend taxpayer investments in tenofovir-based PrEP research; this lawsuit sets the stage for Gilead to be held accountable for billions in unearned revenue,” said Jeremiah Johnson, Director of the HIV Project at TAG. He adds, “Gilead’s price gouging has created enormous barriers to access for those most in need of this essential HIV prevention technology; any damages awarded to the government must be fully invested in community-led PrEP navigation programs and other initiatives to increase awareness and utilization.”
About TAG: Treatment Action Group (TAG) is an independent, activist and community-based research and policy think tank fighting for better treatment, prevention, a vaccine, and a cure for HIV, tuberculosis, and hepatitis C virus.