A year earlier than anticipated, Gilead Sciences announced that they will be releasing a generic version of Truvada, the pill used for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), by September 2020. NBC reports that Douglas Brooks, Gilead’s executive director of community engagement shared:
Gilead reached an agreement with Teva Pharmaceuticals in 2014 to allow the early launch of a generic version of Truvada into the market in 2020, a year earlier than required.
Currently a month supply of Truvada in the United States sells between $1,600 to $2,000, while in other parts of the world it is available for as low as $70.
Just last month the Pan-American Health Organization in Cuba launched a health initiative that distributes PrEP free of charge to individuals who are in need.
This is a big step for the LGBTQ+ community and for HIV activists, however in a statement released by the PrEP4ALL Collaboration, Dr. Aaron S. Lord shared that Gilead’s decision to select only one manufacturer for the generic pill, Isreal-based company Teva, will not be sufficient to alleviate the cost for consumers.
In 2018 alone, Gilead amassed $3 billion in the sale of Truvada.
Dr. Lord says:
The CDC must use the billions of dollars that the American people overpaid to create a national HIV prevention program, aimed at breaking down structural and systemic barriers that prevent the most at-risk communities from accessing the medication. Additionally, the CDC must use its significant leverage to ensure that generic Truvada is available at a price affordable to everyone in this country.
PrEP continues to be the most effective means of HIV prevention, with only a few cases reported of transmission while on the drug. At least one-third of gay men in the U.S. are currently on PrEP, but research shows that people of color and those of lower economic means have difficulty accessing PrEP.
After yesterday’s announcement of the future availability of generic Truvada, Gilead also announced that it will donate up to 2.4 million free bottles of Truvada to uninsured Americans who are at risk of HIV in hopes in support of the U.S. initiative to end the HIV epidemic. The press release reads:
This medication donation is among the largest ever in the United States and is part of Gilead’s broader ongoing initiatives to help ensure that everyone who can benefit from PrEP is able to access it. Gilead will provide to CDC up to 2.4 million bottles of Truvada® annually for uninsured Americans at risk for HIV. The donation, which extends up to 2030, will transition to Descovy® (emtricitabine 200 mg and tenofovir alafenamide 25 mg tablets), if it is approved for use as PrEP.
This announcement comes seven years after Truvada was approved for sale to the public. It is another step in the right direction, but Gilead will continue to sell billions after this donation. Still, with more access to generic PrEP and free access program to Truvada this is big news week for the LGBTQ+ community and HIV activists.