AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, has launched a new advertising campaign to draw attention to Gilead Sciences, Inc. following a recent and blistering LA Times article that exposed the pharmaceutical giant’s patent manipulation of its best-selling HIV drug.
The ad headline reads “Gilead Scandal: Gay Men, we don’t care about your kidneys and bones, only the money.” The ad started running in LGBT publications last week and will run throughout June: in Metro Weekly – 6/2, Washington Blade – 6/3, Gay City News – 6/9, Bay Area Reporter – 6/9 & 6/23, Outword – 6/9 & 6/23, Dallas Voice – 6/10, Georgia Voice – 6/10, Florida Agenda – 6/23.
The LA Times article cited in AHF’s ad details Gilead researchers’ early and promising clinical trials of TAF, a safer and more effective version of their existing HIV medication tenofovir. However, trials of the newer tenofovir compound were abruptly stopped by Gilead executives in 2004, a few years after they began, in order that Gilead could direct its R&D efforts toward “…other research.”
“Our ad targets LGBT news outlets and the gay community in particular because to this day, the only form of tenofovir available in Truvada, which Gilead is aggressively promoting for use as pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP in HIV-negative individuals, is the older form of the compound (TDF)—the form associated with bone loss and kidney damage,” said Whitney Engeran-Cordova, Senior Director of Public Health for AHF. “Gilead does not currently make or market TAF as a standalone medication, it has not been tested or approved by the FDA as a standalone, so unfortunately—and deliberately—the only form of tenofovir patients on PrEP can get is TDF, the older, more toxic form found in Truvada.”
In a lawsuit filed earlier this year, AHF alleges that Gilead halted its early research of TAF in order to extend its patent on its existing HIV medication, which yielded billions of dollars in annual sales. While Gilead argues that the move was only to shift attention toward another type of HIV medicine, their lawyers also maintain that the company “had no duty to develop, test, seek approval of, or launch its new product on any particular timetable.” Meanwhile, HIV patients only had access to the more-harmful version of Gilead’s drug, which had damaging effects on their kidneys and bones.
In response to Gilead’s patent manipulation for higher profits, AHF is also asking Congress and the FDA to conduct a formal investigation of Gilead as well as increased scrutiny of the actions of pharmaceutical companies.
Read the LA Times Story here.
Read AHF’s lawsuit here.
Filed Under: Drug Discovery