Taxpayers Helped Fund HIV Prevention Medication, But Manufacturer – and Trump Administration – Are Holding It Hostage

Statement of Zain Rizvi, Law and Policy Researcher, Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines Program

Note: Today at 10 a.m., the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee holds a hearing to investigate Gilead Sciences’ exorbitant price for the publicly funded breakthrough HIV prevention medication, Truvada. Dr. Robert Grant, the researcher who led the development of the drug, will testify, as will the CEO of Gilead Sciences, a patient advocate and an HIV expert.

The father of PrEP is right. Dr. Robert Grant helped pioneer a way to prevent the spread of HIV, known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). He thinks Gilead’s excessive prices for Truvada are getting in the way of stopping HIV. In his scathing testimony, Dr. Grant calls Gilead a “reluctant partner” in his seminal research. The company “did not provide leadership, innovation, or funding.” In other words, Gilead bore little cost or risk, but it still has profited handsomely, earning $3 billion in Truvada revenue last year alone.

Gilead charges more than $2,000 a month for Truvada as PrEP. Less than 10% of Americans who need the prevention treatment are using it. But it was the U.S. government that funded most of the research. As with many new medicines, taxpayers pay twice: first through public funding of research and development, then for the monopoly prices the companies set after acquiring the rights to the drug.

We have the technology to end AIDS in this generation. Indeed, the U.S. government in part owns that technology. It is in our power to ensure that corporations make it available to everyone who needs it. Dr. Grant calls for a $8 per month price. We call on the Trump administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to make it happen.

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