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Gilead struck anti-competitive deals to retain dominance in HIV market, lawsuit says

Published on 15/05/19 at 09:53am

Gilead Sciences struck anti-competitive deals with Janssen and Britsol-Myers Squibb in an effort to retain dominance in the market for HIV drugs, according to a lawsuit filed by AIDS activists and unions.

The California firm colluded with BMS and J&J – whose medicines were used in a drug combination cocktail – to prevent generic competition, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit alleges the two companies agreed to only use Gilead’s version of tenofovir, even after Gilead’s patent had expired.

In return Gilead agreed not to market a competitor cocktail, once BMS’ and J&J’s patents had expired.

“While we allege a variety of conduct, at the heart of the case is a series of agreements in which Gilead agreed with other drug makers that they wouldn’t use generic versions of Gilead’s drugs in their drug cocktails even after the Gilead patents expired,” Mark Lemley, one of the attorneys who filed the lawsuit, said to STAT.

“We haven’t seen those types of agreements before in the pharmaceutical industry,” he added.

In blocking generics entry into the market, the collusion kept the price of HIV drugs at ‘sky-high’ levels, the lawsuit says.

Speaking to STAT a Gilead spokesperson said: “we have entered into partnerships with other companies with the goal of bringing life-saving therapies to patients in need.  Any suggestion that we had improper motives is absolutely false.”

The lawsuit however, points to fixed-dose combinations such as Gilead’s Complera, which is sold for $35,000 a year. A generic version using patent protected components from Janssen would cost half that amount.

“The anticompetitive actions alleged in this case are shocking and help explain why the prices we pay for our anti-viral pills just keep going up and up. This gross profiteering explains why less than half of people living with HIV in the U.S. are virally suppressed, one of the lowest rates among the world’s high-income countries,” said activist Brenda Goodrow, who filed the lawsuit.

Louis Goss

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