Lawsuit alleges Gilead stalled development of safer HIV drug to maintain profits

May 09, 2018

Two men are suing Gilead Sciences for allegedly delaying the development of a new HIV drug that could have replaced a profitable treatment linked to kidney and bone problems. 

According to the plaintiffs, Gilead knew for years that a medicine called tenofovir alafenamide fumarate (TAF) could be effective in combatting HIV with fewer toxic side effects. But the company’s other drug, tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) had a monopoly on the market and was raking in billions as it became one of the top HIV treatments.

The lawsuit is similar to another one that could become a class-action lawsuit, and is being brought forward by patients who said they suffered at least 10 years of accumulated “kidney and bone toxicity” caused by TDF.

Gilead bought rights to TDF after it was discovered in the 1980s and showed it could be effective against HIV in 1997. The plaintiffs allege that Gilead knew in 2001 that TAF could also be effective — but shelved R&D efforts into the drug in 2004. It was only after the patent for TDF was running out that Gilead then pushed for and won approval of TAF in 2015. Since then, Gilead has been asking doctors to switch to drugs containing TAF.

The plaintiffs are seeking damages for harm caused by the TDF drugs.

Read the full LA Times report.