News & Updates

Statement: Federal Government Sues Gilead for Patent Infringement on PrEP

The decision by Health and Human Services (HHS) to sue Gilead for patent infringement on Truvada and Descovy PrEP is a critical step to provide access to effective HIV prevention to everyone who needs it.

Gilead’s conduct is unconscionable and has had disastrous consequences. In the suit, HHS spells this out plainly: “Gilead’s conduct was malicious, wanton, deliberate, consciously wrongful, flagrant, and in bad faith.” 

Truvada as PrEP and Descovy as PrEP are extraordinarily effective — daily use is associated with a 99 percent reduction in HIV acquisition risk. For nearly a decade, Gilead’s price gouging on PrEP has prevented hundreds of thousands of Americans from accessing this life saving medication, despite being funded through taxpayer dollars. As a result, there has been almost no progress in reducing the number of new HIV diagnoses in the U.S. 

“While yesterday’s action is important, the lawsuit alone will do little to increase access to PrEP. The government must now use these patents to get PrEP to everyone who needs it and create a universal HIV prevention program that alleviates all of the barriers perpetuating the HIV epidemic,” said James Krellenstein, an HIV/AIDS activist and co-founder of the PrEP4All Collaboration. “This step wouldn’t cost taxpayers a dime.”

Current royalties — estimated to be worth at least $3 billion —  are more than enough to get PrEP in the hands of everyone who needs it for free if the cost were lowered to a reasonable generic price, as it is in many other countries. It is also enough to cover education and outreach programs designed to break down the many structural and systemic barriers that prevent the most at risk communities from accessing effective HIV prevention. 

If the government truly seeks to end the HIV. epidemic swiftly, it will use this lawsuit as a springboard to create a truly universal national HIV prevention program.