The Trump administration has filed a lawsuit against Gilead Sciences, a pharmaceutical company known for its HIV medications, for “profiting billions of dollars off taxpayer research without paying royalties,” reports The New York Times.
Additionally, the government has accused Gilead of infringing on patents owned by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and refusing attempts by HHS to license its patents and collect royalties.
While Gilead Sciences hasn’t publicly commented on the lawsuit, it has previously said that HHS didn’t invent the the concepts of PrEP or PEP — medications that can greatly reduce the chance of HIV-transmission — and that the HHS’s patents are invalid.
Of the lawsuit, the activist group PReP4All, which runs the PrEP petition site BreakThePatent.com, wrote:
For nearly a decade, Gilead’s price gouging on PrEP has prevented hundreds of thousands of Americans from accessing this life saving medication, despite it being a taxpayer-funded invention. If HHS is truly invested in ending the HIV epidemic, it will use these patents as leverage to ensure that everyone who needs PrEP can get it.
In addition to the government’s lawsuit, six HIV activists filed anti-trust lawsuits against Gilead Sciences in May of this year. Lead by longtime HIV and ACT-UP activist Peter Staley, the lawsuit accuses Gilead along with Bristol-Myers Squibb and the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen of “anti-competitive practices” that have maintained monopolies over HIV-related medications and kept more affordable generic forms of PrEP off the market.
Mark Lemley, the lead attorney in the litigation, said the companies are committing per se illegal efforts “in a market where there really is a public health crisis.” An estimated 1.1 million Americans are currently living with HIV.
Gilead spokesperson Sonia Choi responded, “We have entered into partnerships with other companies with the goal of bringing lifesaving therapies to patients in need. Any assertion that we worked to delay availability of lifesaving medication to patients is absolutely false.”