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US: Gilead hit with antitrust suit over price-fixing HIV drugs

 |  January 16, 2020

Gilead and its alleged co-conspirators Bristol-Myers Squibb, Japan Tobacco, and Johnson & Johnson have been accused of engaging in a long-running scheme to suppress competition in the market for HIV prevention therapies.

A Medicare recovery specialist, MSP Recovery Claims, sued the companies at the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida Wednesday, January 15, claiming that Gilead had entered into collusive and illegal horizontal agreements with its co-conspirators to block competition against tenofovir disoproxil, an antiretroviral drug.

“Through an array of anticompetitive practices—including horizontal agreements constituting per se violations of the antitrust laws—Gilead acquired and maintained a monopoly for drugs that comprise the modern HIV treatment regimen known as ‘combination antiretroviral therapy’ (cART),” alleged the suit.

This scheme reportedly enabled Gilead and its co-conspirators to “unlawfully extend patent protection for their drugs, impair entry by generic competitors, and charge exorbitant, supra-competitive prices for the drugs that people living with HIV need to survive.”

According to the claim, Gilead now dominates the cART market, with more than 80% of US patients on an HIV treatment regimen taking one or more of Gilead’s products daily.

“Gilead maintains a stranglehold on the cART market even though Tenofovir was discovered more than 30 years ago,” stated the claim, adding that Gilead and the other defendants co-formulated tenofovir disoproxil with the co-conspirators’ third agents into single pills known as fixed-dose-combination drugs (FDCs).

“As part of its unlawful scheme, Gilead also agreed to shield BMS and Janssen’s HIV drugs from imminent generic competition by allowing them to co-formulate FDCs that combined their vulnerable products with a Gilead booster drug, Cobicistat, which enjoyed much longer patent protection,” alleged the suit.

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