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Ged Kenslea, AHF, Business Wire: Gilead ‘Pillaged AIDS Enough’ to Amass $10B Cash for Pharmasset Deal, Yet Refuses HIV Drug Price Cuts

Gilead ‘Pillaged AIDS Enough’ to Amass $10B Cash for Pharmasset Deal, Yet Refuses HIV Drug Price Cuts
by Ged Kenslea, AHF, November 21, 2011

As thousands of Americans linger on AIDS drug waiting lists for access to lifesaving AIDS medications, Gilead announces $10.4 billion all-cash purchase of rival company, Pharmasset

In 2010, Gilead had over $6.5 billion in AIDS drug sales; now, after reaping record profits on AIDS and as patent expirations loom on HIV treatments, company looks to rival’s pipeline for new products and revenue sources

LOS ANGELES – On the same day Gilead Sciences announced its eye-popping $10.4 billion all-cash purchase of rival Pharmasset, a drug company working on treatments for Hepatitis C, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) today chastised Gilead for refusing further AIDS drug price concessions to help end AIDS drug waiting lists and address the severe crisis facing the nation’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), a network of federal and state funded programs that provide life-saving HIV treatments to low income, uninsured, and underinsured individuals living with HIV/AIDS nationwide.

“Over the years, Gilead has pillaged AIDS enough to amass over $10 billion in cash to buy Pharmasset outright, but the company is too cheap to step in and really help end the AIDS drug waiting lists affecting many hard-hit ADAPs and thousands of vulnerable Americans living with HIV/AIDS around the country,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “This is outrageous. We renew our call on Gilead and its C.E.O. John Martin to cut prices and increase access to its lifesaving AIDS medications for ADAPs nationwide.”

According to a Forbes.com story on the purchase, Gilead’s medication, “Viread (tenofovir) or one of the combinations that contain it, is taken by eight in ten AIDS patients.” Gilead’s current pricing for ADAP for its blockbuster HIV/AIDS combination therapy, Atripla (efavirenz & tenofovir & emtricitabine) is approximately $10,000 per patient, per year.

Background on ADAP

With state budgets stretched thin and increasing numbers of unemployed workers without health insurance, many states have been forced to cap enrollment in their AIDS Drug Assistance Programs. As of November 17th, there are 6,595 individuals on waiting lists to receive lifesaving AIDS medications in twelve states. Hundreds of patients in need are being added to the waiting list each week. In addition, thousands more Americans living with HIV/AIDS have been dropped from the program or made ineligible to receive medications through ADAP due to stricter eligibility requirements.

Nationwide, ADAPs serve over 165,000 people, accounting for one third of people on AIDS treatment in the U.S. Unfortunately, the need for these programs expands every year, as more and more people become infected and diagnosed with HIV/AIDS; each year thousands of newly diagnosed HIV patients turn to ADAPs because they cannot afford their medicines.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and services to more than 124,000 individuals in 26 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific region and Eastern Europe. www.aidshealth.org

Contacts

UNITED STATES

AIDS Healthcare Foundation

Ged Kenslea

Communications Director

+1-323-308-1833 [work]

+1-323-791-5526 [mobile]

gedk@aidshealth.org

or

Lori Yeghiayan

Associate Director of Communications

+1-323-308-1834 [work]

+1-323-377-4312 [mobile]

loriy@aidshealth.org
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