Just a week after Gilead announced major decisions in the availability of Truvada to the public, Democratic representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez confronted CEO Daniel O’Day about the high cost of the medication in the United States. Gilead is the company that manufactures the PrEP medication, Truvada, and costs almost $2,000/month for U.S. patients.
AOC, who is a firm LGBTQ+ ally and advocate for health care and minority rights, grilled O’Day on Thursday. Part of her argument was this:
“You’re the CEO of Gilead. Is it true that Gilead made $3 billion in profits from Truvada in 2018?” Ocasio-Cortez asked Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day.
“$3 billion in revenue,” he clarified.
“The current list price is $2,000 a month in the United States, correct?” she asked.
“The current list price is $1,780 in the United States and just to correct, the $3 billion was a global figure for Truvada/PrEP,” O’Day responded.
“Why is it $8 in Australia?” Ocasio-Cortez countered.
“Truvada still has patent protection in the United States and in the rest of the world it is generic. I can’t comment on the prices in Australia of the generic medicines,” O’Day explained, adding, “It will be generically available in the United States as of September 2020 based on Gilead supporting generic entry one year early.”
“I think it’s important here that we notice that we the public, we the people, developed this drug. We paid for this drug, we lead and developed all the patents to create Prep and then that patent has been privatized despite the fact that the patent is owned by the public, who refused to enforce it,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
“There’s no reason this should be $2,000 a month. People are dying because of it and there’s no enforceable reason for it. We own the core intellectual property for it and as a result people are dying for no reason.”
Aside from entering the generic timeframe in the U.S. one year early, Gilead announced that it would also donate up to 2.4 million free bottles of Truvada to uninsured Americans who are at risk of HIV in support of the initiative to end HIV. Despite this, Gilead will still make millions off of consumers as the donation will extend until 2030.
While there will soon be a generic form of PrEP in September 2020, the cost of the medication will not drop significantly enough to make a huge financial impact on the pockets of consumers. The generic brand will only be manufactured by one company, Teva Pharmaceuticals.
Watch Alexandira Ocasio-Cortez, go IN on Gilead CEO, Daniel O’Day and hear her compelling argument: