Gilead wanted restricted access to HIV medication so prices and profits would soar, according to reports from multiple health organizations to Buzzfeed. The company’s application to subsidize the costs to Australian government was not approved but provided many revelations.
Health advocates say Gilead attempted to restrict subsidised access to Truvada – used in the HIV prevention regime pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) – so it could continue to charge an exorbitant price.
The details of Gilead’s submission are not publicly available, but HIV advocates believe the company asked the government to subsidise the full retail price of the drug, which sells for around $700 a month.
They say the company also wanted to restrict access to only people with a higher risk of contracting HIV, but HIV advocates and the Department of Health both say these restrictions were unacceptable.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health said Gilead’s proposed cost for the drug was “far too high”.
“[Gilead’s] attempt to limit PBS subsidy of Truvada to a smaller, high-risk subset of the whole ‘at risk’ population was not feasible and would not be acceptable to prescribers or consumers,” the spokesperson said.
President of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations Dr Bridget Haire told BuzzFeed News that in attempting to protect its profit margins, Gilead had failed to protect the Australians who are most at risk of contracting HIV.
“We know that you can buy generic Truvada equivalents over the internet for as low as $55 or $60 a month,” she said. “It’s pretty hard to justify charging over $700 a month for the same pill.
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