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Bottles of antiretroviral drug Truvada. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Justice Department is reviewing the government patent for use of an HIV prevention drug, potentially signaling that it's considering action against the drugmaker that sells it, the Washington Post reports.

The bottom line: The drug, Truvada, is owned by Gilead, which sells it for between $1,600 and 2,000 a month.

Details: A retired Centers for Disease Control scientist told the Post that a Justice Department lawyer visited the CDC last month to talk to government scientists who discovered Truvada's preventative use.

  • Gilead says the government's patent is invalid.

Why it matters: Truvada is key to the administration's goal of eradicating HIV by 2030, as it helps prevent new infections. But its price tag is creating patient access issues.

"We are in discussions with the government to determine the best ways to broaden access to Truvada for PrEP to vulnerable populations in the United States and support the federal plan to end the HIV epidemic."
— Gilead's statement to the Post

The big picture: It's rare for the government to sue for drug patent infringement, although the Department of Health and Human Services has patented more than 2,500 products since 1976, WashPost reported last month.

  • These discoveries were publicly financed, but the government often licenses them to private drug companies, which commercialize them.

Go deeper: Big Pharma's GOP firewall is weakening

Go deeper

Biden confronts mounting humanitarian crisis at the border

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Pool/Getty Images     

Just over a month into his presidency, President Biden is staring down a mounting crisis at the border that could be just as bad as the ones faced by Barack Obama and Donald Trump, if not worse.

Why it matters: Immigration is an issue that can consume a presidency. It's intensely and poisonously partisan. It's complicated. And the lives and welfare of vulnerable children hang in the balance.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

The rise of vaccine passports

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Vaccine passports were touted early in the pandemic as an important piece of the plan to get people back to normal life. Now they’re becoming a reality.

Driving the news: CLEAR, the secure digital identity app that you see in airports around the world, and CommonPass, a health app that lets users securely access vaccination records and COVID test results, have joined forces.

"Vaccine tourism" stretches states' supplies

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans who are highly motivated to get vaccinated are traveling across state lines after hearing about larger vaccine supplies or loopholes in sign-up systems.

Why it matters: "Vaccine tourism" raises ethical and legal questions, and could worsen the racial socioeconomic and racial inequalities of the pandemic.