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Aids Healthcare Foundation Calls on Makers of PrEP Drugs to Lower Prices

by Sam Cronin

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday October 17, 2019

The Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF) called on October 5 for Gilead Sciences Inc. to cut prices of pre-exposure prophalaxis drug Descovy. The new medication, which features a new formulation of the existing medicine in Truvada, was recently approved by the FDA for sale to consumers, despite controversy around Gilead's limited lab testing demographics.

The call from the AHF cites the immense profits Gilead has made on the sale of Truvada, as well as the health concerns that sprouted from "Gilead's willful promotion and extensive sales of an earlier, far more toxic, formulation of the drug component known as tenofovir disoproxil fumarate or TDF—a medication proven to cause permanent damage to the kidneys and bones," according to BioSpace.

"Now that it has FDA approval for the wider use of Descovy as PrEP to prevent HIV acquisition, AHF is calling on Gilead to drastically cut the cost of this medication," said Michael Weinstein, president of AHF in a press release. "Aside from the countless billions Gilead has already made off of its HIV/AIDS treatment medications, Gilead must atone for its deliberate suppression of TAF from patients over the past decade or more simply in order to maximize its profits and extend sales of its more harmful TDF-based medications. As a result, people have been grievously harmed—many, suffering permanent kidney and bone damage—by Gilead's greed and pursuit of the almighty dollar. Gilead should really do the right thing now and significantly cut the price Descovy."

FiercePharma reported in May on a lawsuit accusing Gilead of withholding safer non-TDF medications from the public. FiercePharma also reports that "in August, when an FDA advisory committee recommended Descovy for PrEP approval, AHF made the bold request that Gilead drop the drug's cost to $1 per pill. Descovy currently lists at around $1,800 for 30 tablets—or around $60 per pill."

Gilead has yet to issue a response to the AHF statement as of the writing of this post. Additionally, Descovy is still not FDA approved for anyone who has "receptive vaginal sex," which includes cisgender women and some transgender people.