US: Gilead CEO insists federal government patent for HIV prevention pill Truvada is invalid

The chief executive of Gilead Sciences, the nation’s leading manufacturer of HIV drugs, defended the high cost of a key drug that prevents the lethal infection, telling a House committee Thursday that its hefty profits pay for continued research.

“We have taken the disease from a death sentence to a manageable clinical condition, but we’re not done yet,” Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day told committee members. “We have to be sure that Americans get our medicines at a price that allows us to invest in research.’’

He said Gilead has spent $6 billion on HIV/AIDS research since 2000.

Gilead’s HIV drug, Truvada, costs between $1,600 and $2,000 a month in the United States, compared with just a few dollars a month in some foreign countries, a disparity that has attracted widespread criticism of the San Francisco company and stoked claims of price-gouging.

Democrats on the committee zeroed in on tens of millions of dollars in government grants, as well as direct research conducted by government scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that proved Truvada could be used to prevent HIV.

They said that Gilead’s high prices are preventing broader use of Truvada. Only about 20 percent of the 1.1 million people who should be taking it for prevention are on the drug. That means preventable infections are occurring every day, lawmakers said. Read more via Washington Post