Many progressive bloggers covered this story a few months ago. Big Pharma steals our tax dollars as we do the research on drugs and they profit hugely without giving back.
Your tax dollars developed a drug cocktail that is 99% effective in preventing AIDS. Gilead found the standard method corporations collude with the government to rip us all off.
Well, it seems like the government is acting. The New York Times reports the following.
After years of prodding by patient advocates, federal officials on Wednesday sued the drug maker Gilead Sciences, charging that it had infringed government patents on the idea of preventing H.I.V. with a daily pill.
The suit, by the Department of Health and Human Services, came as a pleasant shock to many critics of the company, including Democratic members of Congress who had pressed the administration to act.
It is very rare for the government to take on a drug maker over patents. But the medications made by Gilead are necessary to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030, which the Trump administration has set as a goal. That cannot be accomplished if the drugs are not made more affordable.
I wrote about this in a blog post highlighting a riveting exchange between the CEO of Gilead and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at a Congressional hearing. It also explains how Gilead got the drug.
Big Pharma scam
According to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the AIDS drug Truvada cost $8 in Australia and almost $2,000 in the United States per month. As noted by this Republican Congressman, the GOP machine makes a mistake by engaging AOC because she is smart and always prepared at hearings.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez first confirmed the drug pricing in the hearing. She then castigated the Gilead Sciences CEO.
“I think it’s important here that we notice that we the public, we the people, developed this drug. We paid for this drug, we lead and developed all the patents to create Prep and then that patent has been privatized despite the fact that the patent is owned by the public, who refused to enforce it,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said. “There’s no reason this should be $2,000 a month. People are dying because of it and there’s no enforceable reason for it.”
The New York Times further reported the following. It illustrates the Gilead’s Big Pharma fraud.
PrEP is a drug regimen: A person at risk of contracting H.I.V. is prescribed one of two drugs to be taken in pill form once daily to prevent the infection. Both of the drugs approved for use in this regimen, Truvada and Descovy, are made by Gilead.
If taken daily, the drugs cut the risk of H.I.V. infection by more than 99 percent. Public health officials are eager to get more people on PrEP, and the Trump administration in February announced an enormous effort to get the drugs to people in high-risk communities.
About one million Americans are at high risk of getting H.I.V. through sex or shared needles and would benefit from PrEP, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But just 270,000 Americans are on PrEP, and there are about 40,000 new infections each year.
The price has been an obstacle, critics say. Truvada, which will come off patent next year, has cost about $20,000 per patient per year in recent years; Descovy currently costs about the same. In other countries, generic versions of Truvada sell for as little as $60 a year.
It is surprising that this suit is occurring under the Trump administration. Of course, we do not know how he will ultimately resolve it. But the one thing we know is that Trump knows how to triangulate. He just needs to skim a little from each interest group and this may just be that.