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AIDS activists sue pharma companies over anticompetitive practices

(Photo via Pixabay)

AUSTIN, Texas — AIDS activists have joined a lawsuit against Gilead Sciences and other drug companies over anticompetitive practices, a press release stated on Tuesday.

Activists Gregg Gonsalves, Brenda Goodrow, Andrew Spieldenner, Peter Staley, Robert Vázquez, and Jason Walker joined with other consumers in filing an antitrust complaint in federal court in San Francisco against large pharmaceutical manufacturers, including Gilead Sciences, Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, and Johnson & Johnson, Inc.’s subsidiary Janssen R&D Ireland.

According to the press release, the complaint alleges that the manufacturers used anticompetitive tactics to keep prices artificially high on some of the most important and widely used medicines for the treatment and prevention of the HIV virus, including Truvada, Descovy, Atripla, Genvoya, and Odefsey (others include Viread, Emtriva, Complera, Stribild, Vemlidy, Reyataz, Evotaz, Prezista, Prezcobix, Edurant, Symtuza, and Tybost).

The suit alleges that the defendants’ “no-generics” restraints cover more than 75% of all sales of NRTIs (the “backbone” drugs in HIV cocktails) in the United States, more than 50% of all sales of “core agents” (e.g., protease inhibitors, integrase inhibitors), and more than 75% of all sales of “booster” drugs that make some core agents more potent and longer-lasting. These pervasive no-generics restraints to keep their HIV-drug prices at the sky-high $35,000-per-year level even though three principal NRTIs are now available as generics.

“The anticompetitive actions alleged in this case are shocking and help explain why the prices we pay for our antiviral pills just keep going up and up,” said Goodrow. “This gross profiteering explains why less than half of people living with HIV in the U.S. are virally suppressed, one of the lowest rates among the world’s high-income countries.”

The case is Peter Staley, et al. v. Gilead Sciences, Inc., et al., No. 3:19-cv-02573, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Law firm Hilliard & Shadowen, LLP is representing the activists.

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