May 15, 2019 - Health

New lawsuit alleges more drug patent games in the HIV market

HIV treatment pill pack

"Combination cocktails" for HIV treatment are with medications made by different drugmakers. Photo: Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A lawsuit filed yesterday by AIDS activists and unions alleges that Gilead conspired with other drug companies to block generic competition in the HIV market, Stat News reports.

Backdrop: "Combination cocktails" are often used to treat HIV, and they consist of fixed doses of medications made by different drugmakers.

  • The lawsuit alleges that Gilead made deals with Bristol-Myers Squibb and Janssen to use only each others' products in these cocktails, even after the patents expired.

Why it matters: The lawsuit alleges that this scheme kept prices for HIV drugs "sky-high," even when generic versions of the cocktail components were available.

  • "This gross profiteering explains why less than half of people living with HIV in the U.S. are virally suppressed, one of the lowest rates among the world's high-income countries,” Brenda Goodrow, one of the plaintiffs, said in a statement.

Go deeper: People with untreated HIV transmitted 80% of new infections

Go deeper