Hurry up, Gilead
September 10, 2019 11:50 AM   Subscribe

Big pharma fails to deliver, again One year after announcing a price reduction in a critical drug used for treating people living with advanced HIV, Gilead has still not lowered the price, and even raised it in some places. An MSF/Doctore Without Borders pharmacist calls them out.
posted by stillmoving (9 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Can't process past the pharma co's name, brain stuck in a loop. Need drugs.

I listen to CBC radio and pretty much all of yesterday was interviews with Margaret Atwood about her new book. So reading this headline I thought it would be for something else.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:33 PM on September 10, 2019 [9 favorites]

I thought there might be some confusion, hence the pharma blurb. Apologies for typos in the post!
posted by stillmoving at 12:47 PM on September 10, 2019

If you're weirded out reading Gilead as a pharma name when The Handmaid's Tale is relatively in the mainstream, imagine how I felt when I started taking Truvada 10+ years ago and, though I guess I knew the Biblical history behind the name, still only recognized it from the book. It was quite the disconnect.

I mean, no bigger than my current one, of course, which is being thankful that the drug was around to save my life but hating the company who profits on it.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:01 PM on September 10, 2019 [8 favorites]

The announcement of the price reduction well in advance of actually doing anything gives Gilead good PR when they haven't done anything yet and also dissuades generic manufacturers from making their own version because now they have to compete with a $16 vial instead of a $100 one.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:24 PM on September 10, 2019 [8 favorites]

The NYT podcast The Daily had a truly enraging segment on Gilead's disingenuous extending of the patent for Truvada, which has resulted in only a small fraction of people who could benefit actually being able to afford it. They interview the head researcher for the Truvada project who really believed his work was going to put an end to HIV in our lifetimes and thought Gilead was acting in good faith by funding the studies. It's a truly heartbreaking and absolutely infuriating story.

The brazen sociopathy is shocking even for an industry already known for its brazen sociopathy.
posted by treepour at 3:32 PM on September 10, 2019 [9 favorites]

The King James Version holds up eerily well:

The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved. For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me. Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?
-JER 8:20-22

And, a little further down the page:

Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; that I might leave my people, and go from them! for they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men. - JER 9:2
posted by Richard Saunders at 3:33 PM on September 10, 2019 [4 favorites]

Gilead's marketing is a funny thing. Truvada isn't the cure-all it is described as, in that there are strains of HIV out there that are resistant to one of the two reverse-transcriptase inhibitors in the medication. There does seem to be a kind of marketing around PrEP that you can fuck around as much as you want and you'll be safe, as opposed to safer. Even ignoring increased rates of antibiotic-resistant chlamydia and gonorrhea, the more people have unprotected sex with HIV+ partners across borders, the more that these drug-resistant strains will spread, and then there is a broader pool of patients for the pharmaceutical company's other offerings.

Conspiracy is obviously a strong word, a serious one, and one I'd not bother to use here, so much as to say that there are perhaps analysts who have crunched some numbers and have modeled an opportunity to capitalize, while some parts of the company's portfolio are still mostly effective in countries that make it profitable, and other parts of the company's IP are still patented and can be profited from.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 4:58 PM on September 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Gilead's TAF-based drugs, which they started developing in April 2001, could have launched the same damn year they put out Truvada.

TAF (tenofovir alafenamide fumarate)'s apparently safer than TDF (Truvada's active ingredient) and effective at lower doses.

(Recent study results comparing the two drugs, since people in this very thread depend on these life-saving medications.)

I'm glad Truvada has saved so many people's lives. But I'm bitter that Gilead didn't do the right thing and launch TAF drugs at the same time so patients could choose the best formulation to fit their medical needs.

GoodRx price for Truvada without insurance: $1845-ish for 30 pills
GoodRx price for Descovy without insurance: $1842-ish for 30 pills

posted by Unicorn on the cob at 7:20 PM on September 11, 2019

As hot as reverse transcriptase inhibitors are now, I think there is smoke on the wind which suggests they will become an enormous conflagration in a few years, perhaps rivaling or even exceeding statins (est. ~$1T in 2020), and I think manufacturers are reluctant to lower prices now for fear that would effectively establish a price ceiling if and when demand for them increases tremendously, and could sustain very high prices.
posted by jamjam at 2:04 PM on September 12, 2019

« Older She Said   |   "It tastes like hot bread that a strawberry... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments