Gilead Sued over HIV Drug Safety

Two sets of California patients living with HIV filed a personal injury lawsuit and a separate class action lawsuit against Gilead Sciences Inc., alleging the company purposely slowed development of a safer version of an HIV medicine for profit.

Both Los Angeles Superior Court cases assert that Gilead’s desire to maintain and maximize its corporate profits came at the expense of the health and well-being of its customers who were prescribed and taking the drug TDF.

A Gilead spokesman said no comment will be made on the lawsuits until they are reviewed.

The company knew as far back as 2001 from its own studies and other research that TDF was “highly toxic in the doses prescribed and risked permanent and possibly fatal damage to the kidneys and bones,” according to the complaints.

The lawsuits also allege that Gilead suppressed from the market its alternate and newer formulation of the drug, TAF, in order to extend the patent life and sales of its existing medications, including TDF.

In its early stages of development, TDF animal toxicology studies showed that the bones and kidneys were the target organs for toxicity and that the bone toxicities included … decreases in bone mineral density,” the suits allege.

“A company I trusted with my life took advantage of that trust by misrepresenting the side effects of TDF, calling it the “miracle drug,” said plaintiff Michael Lujano, who along with Jonathan Gary brought a separate case Tuesday from the class action complaint filed by Devin Martinez and Ricardo Wohler.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Liza Brereton said that for too long “big pharma has been abusing the financial and legal benefits they’ve been given under the guise of fostering research and development. These lawsuits, however, make clear that Gilead’s perverse motive of outsized profits and increased market share is not in line with patient health and safety. Under these circumstances, the laws must be read to protect public health from corporate greed.”

Gilead earned over $18 billion in net profit in 2015, according to the plaintiffs’ attorneys.