CALIFORNIA – A class action lawsuit filed in May of 2018 accuses four major drug companies of keeping generic HIV medications from entering the market. The lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of California, alleges that the companies have conspired to perpetuate the exclusivity of patent-protected HIV drugs, preventing patients from ever having access to lower-priced generics.
Patients with HIV are treated using a combination of drugs that have been combined into one pill. A class action suit claims that the pharmaceutical companies Gilead, Johnson & Johnson, Bristol Meyer Squibb, and Japan Tobacco have an agreement among themselves that ensures indefinite brand-name profits.
The suit says that the companies have agreed to withhold HIV drugs from the market that have all-generic combinations. By never selling drugs with generic combinations, the companies are preventing generics from ever coming to the market, the suit alleges, and prohibiting patients from taking advantage of cheaper treatment options.
AIDS activist organizations and union health plans filed the lawsuit in federal court. The plaintiffs allege that if not for the unlawful agreements of the companies, a generic option for HIV treatment would have been available to patients in late 2017. They are seeking damages for the money they have spent on brand-name medications with illegally inflated costs.
In addition to medication for patients with HIV, the lawsuit also involves the pre-exposure prophylaxis medication known as Truvada. Truvada is manufactured by Gilead for patients who do not have HIV but are at risk. The drug costs patients more than $20,000 a year, and the lawsuit claims that generics could drive the cost down to about $7,000 annually.
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