Phnom Penh, CAMBODIA — To continue pressuring pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences to stop its greedy tactics and put lives before profits, AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Gilead is one of the worst offenders of big pharma profiteering, and at the same time, it has priced several of its HIV and hepatitis C drugs out of reach for many people.
Gilead is among the top 15 largest biopharmaceutical firms in the world, generating over $27 billion in revenue and paying its CEO over $19 million in 2021 alone. In addition to overpricing lifesaving drugs, it has refused to register some medications in lower-income countries and consistently blocks attempts to introduce cheaper, generic versions of its medicines.
With the upcoming protest in and other planned actions worldwide, AHF is taking its grassroots campaign global to raise awareness about Gilead’s shameful practices and calling on the company to do the following:
Stop evergreening patents on existing HIV/AIDS drugs like Truvada – this is exploitation, not innovation.
Open the license for the generic production of the hepatitis C drug Harvoni to all low- and middle-income countries, without exception.
For the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, sell or license remdesivir for generic distribution at a nonprofit price.
License technology to produce treatment for cryptococcal meningitis to generic manufacturers.
Link executive compensation to the impact on positive public health outcomes and access to medicines in developing countries.
“We’re calling on Gilead to do these five things because they’re vital in helping the millions of people in low- and middle-income countries that don’t have access to the affordable, lifesaving medicines they need,” said AHF Asia Bureau Chief Dr. Chhim Sarath. “Through its greedy, monopolistic tactics, Gilead has made billions of dollars while harming people living with HIV by controlling the patents [known as evergreening] for some of the most effective and well-tolerated antiretroviral treatments for HIV and other conditions, thereby not allowing cheaper generic drugs to be produced. Advocates around the world have had enough – Gilead must do the right thing and start putting people’s lives before profits.”
A highly effective hepatitis C drug costs $1,000 per pill, and a 12-week course of treatment has a retail price of over $90,000 in the U.S. A generic version of the same drug costs only $4 per pill in India, but according to Médecins Sans Frontières, Gilead has excluded 50 middle-income countries from access to the generic, discounted price. These excluded countries include Jamaica, Tunisia, the Philippines, Ukraine, and Venezuela, among others.
“Gilead must be held accountable for arbitrarily placing a price on who lives and who dies by keeping the most effective, modern, and lifesaving medicines out of reach of millions of people in low- and middle-income countries,” said AHF Director of Global Advocacy and Policy Guillermina Alaniz. “Gilead is notorious for exploiting patent monopolies on blockbuster drugs to enrich itself and its shareholders. It uses R&D [research and development] costs as an excuse when those aspects are often funded by taxpayers. For their generosity, the public and lower-income countries are rewarded with astronomical drug prices. Our global advocacy campaign is meant to let everyone know about Gilead’s greedy tactics and make lifesaving medicines accessible for everyone, not just people in rich countries.”
A group of nearly 150 nongovernmental organizations, including AHF and MSF, wrote a letter recently to Gilead demanding it expand access to its patented COVID-19 treatment candidate drug remdesivir. Gilead holds the patent on remdesivir in 70 countries worldwide, and there are no production sites for the drug outside the U.S. In the face of a huge demand for remdesivir, MSF says Gilead is taking advantage of the patent monopoly to limit access to the drug and prevent generic competition.
Meanwhile, millions of people with COVID-19 risk dying due to a lack of access to effective treatments.
Despite claims that it uses its enormous profits to develop new drugs, Gilead all too often buys up publicly funded research on new medicines, brings them to market at inflated prices, and rewards its executives with enormous pay packages while delivering above-market stock prices and dividends for its shareholders. It’s time that Gilead stops the greed.
Learn more about AHF’s Gilead advocacy at gilead.org.
About AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is a global non-profit organization providing cutting-edge medicine and advocacy to over 1.7 million people in 45 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region, and Europe. We are currently the largest non-profit provider of HIV/AIDS medical care in the world. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and Instagram: @aidshealthcare.