First, the stage: Truvada is a PrEP drug that can prevent patients from contracting HIV if taken proactively. Right now, its pretty much the only pre-exposure prophylaxis drug available, making it a groundbreaking tool in the fight against HIV and AIDS. In the U.S., where its shielded by patents, it costs nearly $2,000. But, as Ocasio-Cortez pointed out, it only costs $8 in Australia, where there is a generic version available and the country has universal healthcare.
So please enjoy this clip of AOC directing righteous fury directly at the CEO of Gilead, the company that makes and sells Truvada.
As Daniel ODay, the Gilead CEO noted, Truvada still has a patent in the U.S. His justification was that We have to be sure that Americans get our medicines at a price that allows us to invest in research, but the reason he was in front of the House Oversight Committee is because the CDC funded an enormous amount of the research that created Truvada and also owns a patent for the drug. But Gilead insists that its patent is the only valid one, and has reaped massive rewards to the tune of $3 billion in global revenue last year.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slams Gilead over HIV drug prices: People are dying for no reason
The governments failing to adequately shield consumers from companies like Gilead is a continuing tragedy, but at least with Democrats in control of the House, every once in a while well get to see a CEO sweat.
“The list price is almost $2,000 in the United States. Why is it $8 in Australia?” Ocasio-Cortez asked the CEO of Gilead Sciences, Daniel ODay, after noting the company made $3 billion in revenue off the once-a-day pill in 2018.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., didnt hold back Thursday in questioning the chief executive of the company that makes Truvada about the high cost of the drug used to prevent HIV with pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP.
“Theres no reason this should be $2,000 a month,” Ocasio-Cortez, who has pushed for the hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. “People are dying because of it, and theres no enforceable reason for it.”
CEO behind HIV drug Truvada grilled on $3B in profitsMay 17, 201902:23″The list price is almost $2,000 in the United States. Why is it $8 in Australia?” Ocasio-Cortez asked the CEO of Gilead Sciences, Daniel ODay, after noting the company made $3 billion in revenue off the once-a-day pill in 2018.
ODay responded that “Truvada still has patent protection in the United States, and in the rest of the world it is generic.” He noted that, as announced last week, the drug is set to be generically available in the U.S. in September 2020.
Theres no reason this should be $2,000 a month,” Ocasio-Cortez, who has pushed for the hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. “People are dying because of it, and theres no enforceable reason for it.
Ocasio-Cortez also claimed, as has been alleged by activists and academics, that Truvadas use as an HIV prevention pill was discovered by the U.S. government.
“We the public, we the people, developed this drug, we paid for this drug, we lead and developed all the grounding 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,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
In prepared remarks, ODay denied the charge that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, owns the patent for PrEP. Every single Gilead employee is proud that we invented Truvada, a medicine that can both treat and prevent HIV, he said.
Our well-supported view is that the U.S. government does not hold valid patents on the use of Truvada for pre-exposure prophylaxis, nor does it hold any patent for Truvada itself, ODay added.
The hearing came as activists have ramped up pressure against Gilead, a company that commercializes and manufactures a variety of therapies and cures for chronic diseases.
Members of the PrEP4All Collaboration, a group of activists pushing for broad PrEP access, and legal experts filed a class action lawsuit on Tuesday alleging that the nations largest HIV drug manufacturers, including Gilead, for years conspired to keep cheaper generic component medications out of popular combination pills that make treating HIV as simple as taking one pill a day.