Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) tore into Daniel O'Day, CEO of California-based biotech firm Gilead Sciences, Inc., for charging Americans close to $2,000 for an HIV prevention drug that only costs $8 in Australia.
Ocasio-Cortez expressed outrage the prescription combination drug Truvada (Emtricitabine / Tenofovir Disoproxil Fumarate), which was developed with U.S. taxpayers' money, should be priced so exorbitantly. Gilead is earning billions from the drug despite it being developed by the U.S. federal government, which has earned nothing for this success.
Truvada was developed by the joint efforts of Dr. Thomas Folks PhD at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Dr. Robert Grant MD, who has more than 30 years experience in HIV/AIDS research, and who received $50 million in federal grant money for the drug research.
The U.S. government patented the treatment in 2015. On the other hand, Gilead made $3 billion in global sales off Truvada in 2018 alone, according to The Washington Post.
The current list price (of Truvada) is $2,000 a month in the United States, correct?" she asked O’Day on Thursday during a congressional hearing. O’Day clarified the list price is actually $1,780.
Ocasio-Cortez shot back: “Why is it $8 in Australia?”
O’Day replied Truvada still has patent protection in the U.S. while it does not outside the country.
"It will be generically available in the United States as of September 2020,” he said.
Ocasio-Cortez pointed out “it's important here that we notice that we the public, we the people, developed this drug. We paid for this drug, we led and developed all the patents to create PrEP (the commonly known name for Truvada) and then that patent has been privatized, despite the fact that the patent is owned by the public, who refused to enforce it.”
She added, "We the people developed this drug. We paid for this drug … There is no reason this should be $2,000 a month. People are dying because of it!"
Gilead originally developed Truvada for other treatments and claims the U.S. government patent is not valid.
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Date Posted: Sunday, May 19th, 2019 , Total Page Views: 523
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