COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Life saving for those living with HIV, disease preventing for those at high risk for contracting it, a dual use drug that both treats and prevents HIV is at the center of multiple lawsuits accusing drug maker Gilead of putting profits over patients.
Gilead faces a 1-billion dollar lawsuit over the patent for Truvada.
The CDC was awarded the patent on Truvada for PREP, an acronym used when the drug is used preventatively.
Gilead says it began discussing the drug as a highly effective preventative treatment in 2002.
Activists say the more than $20,000 annual cost puts the medication out of reach for many patients who would most benefit from it.
In Australia, a generic version of PREP is less than $100 per year.
Gilead now also faces lawsuits accusing the company of holding back a new formulation said to reduce dangerous side effects related to bone and kidney damage.
OSU Wexner Medical Center Infectious Disease Doctor Carlos Malvestutto says those issues are rare.
Malvestutto hopes the lawsuits don’t have a negative effect on the HIV negative patients who would most benefit from taking Truvada as a preventative measure.
“It would scare them away from it because they’ll think there is this high risk of side effects and the risk is actually exceedingly low,” said Malvestutto.
Malvestutto says doctors with patients on Truvada should be ordering bloodwork every 3-months to reduct the incidence of bone and kidney damage.
He’s concerned the lawsuits will unnecessarily scare patients away from Truvada when they’d be better off taking it.
Malvestutto also says manufacturer’s discounts are available to reduce the cost and in many cases can actually be gotten free of charge.