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Gilead’s Earnings Are Based on Price Gouging Hepatitis C Treatments

April 28, 2016

Gilead’s Earnings Are Based on Price Gouging Hepatitis C Treatments

Statement of Peter Maybarduk, Director of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines Program

Note: Today, pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences, Inc. announced its quarterly earnings.

Analysts may be celebrating Gilead’s earnings report, but Americans should not. Gilead is charging extortionate prices for life-saving medicines. Thanks to Gilead’s price gouging, life-saving hepatitis C cures are being rationed. Too many Americans, including veterans and low-income workers struggling to make ends meet, have been denied access to a hepatitis C cure.

The breakthrough drug sofosbuvir, marketed as Sovaldi and Harvoni, was not developed by Gilead primarily, but rather by a small company that Gilead acquired for a fraction of the $36 billion that Gilead has made in just two and a half years so far ($25 billion in the U.S. alone).

Monopoly power, based on the government grant of a patent, allows Gilead to charge the highest prices it believes the market will bear. Yet the federal government could use its rights in the patent to introduce generic competition at any time, making a cure affordable for everyone and eradication of hepatitis C in this country feasible.

Under existing law (28 USC 1498), federal agencies can make use of patented inventions in exchange for a royalty payment to the patent holder. Today’s latest evidence of the extent of Gilead’s profiteering underscores the urgent need for aggressive federal action.