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Gilead Beats HIV Drug Claims

 |  March 15, 2021

Gilead and Bristol-Myers Squibb dodged part of a lawsuit over their alleged scheme to clear the HIV prevention market for the blockbuster drug Truvada, when a federal judge in San Francisco tentatively tossed antitrust allegations brought on behalf of wholesalers, reported Bloomberg Law.

Though he denied a bid by the drugmakers to force the case into arbitration, Judge Edward M. Chen dismissed the proposed class action anyway, saying the distributors didn’t lay out any basis for targeting agreements the pharmaceutical companies reached outside the statute of limitations.

The class action lawsuit, HIV and AIDS activists said Gilead teamed with Bristol-Myers, J&J’s Janssen unit, and Japan Tobacco to knock back competition to HIV cocktail meds. The companies agreed to stick with patent-protected ingredients in their fixed-dose combination drugs, rather than sub in low-cost generics, even after patents expired on the individual components, the lawsuit claimed.

The strategy forced much higher prices over time, the lawsuit claimed. Even after exclusivity lapsed for some components of the meds—which are key to HIV treatment because they drastically reduce the number of pills patients need to take—Gilead’s fixed-dosed-combination drug Complera sells for US$35,000 per year, the plaintiffs said. A version using available generic components—plus Janssen’s still-patent-protected Edurant—would cost half that, the suit alleged. 

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