Over the past week, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, hosted protests targeting Gilead Sciences over the company’s AIDS and hepatitis C drug pricing and policies.
On June 15, 50 AIDS advocates protested in front of the drug company’s headquarters in Foster City, CA in an effort to bring the message home to company’s employees and executives during the lunch hour. The protesters were outfitted with ‘Gilead Greed Kills’ T-shirts, banners, and placards.
The event followed a similar protest last week spearheaded by AHF in Southern California as Gilead executives were presenting at a Goldman Sachs Healthcare Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes. That protest consisted of a car caravan featuring a hearse, a double-deck bus and 40+ cars dressed with ‘Gilead Greed Kills’ banners and placards. It also included a small plane towing a banner reading “Gilead’s Greed Kills!” that flew back and forth over the resort for several hours.
“We had another great protest action at Gilead today—as worthy a target of people’s outrage over drug pricing and policies as any company out there,” said Dale R. Gluth, Bay Area Regional Director for AHF. “To be clear, nearly all Gilead’s AIDS drug treatment combinations cost more than most U.S. AIDS patients earn in any given year—to say nothing of the outrageous pricing of their hepatitis C medications, Harvoni and Sovaldi—both priced at $1,000 or more per pill!”
A key catalyst for these latest protests and new ‘Gilead Greed Kills!’ advocacy campaign was the recent publication of a blistering LA Times article that exposed Gilead’s patent manipulation of its best-selling HIV drugs containing tenofovir in order to maximize profits on the older, more toxic form of the drug.
In a lawsuit filed earlier this year, AHF alleges that Gilead halted its early research of the form of tenofovir known as TAF in order to extend its patent on its existing HIV medication—TDF, 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.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 629,000 individuals in 36 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe.
To view additional protest photos, click here.