HIV Drug Settlement Reached to Resolve Class Action Over Truvada, Stribild, Other Antiretrovirals
A tentative settlement agreement has been announced to partially resolve a class action lawsuit over HIV drugs that were allegedly overpriced, due to anticompetitive conduct by Gilead and several other major manufacturers of antiretroviral medications.
According to a press release issued on December 30, Bristol-Myers Squibb has agreed to pay $10 million to resolve claims over its alleged participation in a scheme with Gilead, Johnson & Johnson and some of their subsidiaries to artificially inflate the prices of widely used HIV drugs, including Atripla, Biktarvy, Complera, Descovy, Evotaz, Genvoya, Odefsey, Prezcobix, Stribild, Symtiza, Truvada and Viread.
The lawsuit claims that activities among these companies, and how they handled the pricing of antiretroviral drugs, resulted in consumers and third-party payors (TPPs) overpaying for the critical treatments.
The HIV drug settlement, which has not yet received final approval, only resolves claims against Bristol-Myers Squibb, who will contribute $10 million into a fund and agreed not enforce certain contractual provisions it made in a deal with Gilead, which plaintiffs say led to them overpaying for the drug Evotaz. The settlement does not affect the ongoing claims against Gilead and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen subsidiary, which the press release notes have not been resolved.
A judge is expected to determine whether the settlement can be finalized at a hearing scheduled for April 28, 2022. Details on the settlement agreement, who is affected and how to receive payment are available at the settlement website, www.HIVdrugsettlement.com.
The claims raised in the class action complaint do not include any alleged injuries caused by the medications. However, Gilead faces thousand of separate HIV drug lawsuits filed by plaintiffs nationwide, each raising similar allegations that its line of tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) HIV drugs exposed users to toxic side effects, even though the drug maker was aware that safer formulations existed for years.
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Kidney and bone injuries linked to the HIV drugs Truvada, Viread, Atripla, Complera and Stribild may have been avoided.
In addition to claims Gilead conspired with other drug manufacturers to retain its patents on TDF-based HIV drugs and thus artificially inflate prices, consumers claim the TDF-based medications were more toxic than they had to be, since Gilead was already aware of a safer alternative, using the HIV drug compound tenofovir alafenamide fumarate (TAF), which could be taken at lower doses and be equally as effective.
Rather than introducing the safer HIV drugs, the drug maker decided to sit on the development and continued to market the Gilead TDF drugs for years. However, once it started to face competition from generic equivalents for Truvada, Atripla, Stribild, Viread and other TDF drugs, Gilead introduced and began aggressively marketing versions of the medications with the HIV drug compound TAF.
As a result of the apparent decision to place profits before consumer safety, plaintiffs in the separate personal injury lawsuits allege they suffered various injuries from toxic effects from the TDF HIV drugs, including low kidney function, bone demineralization, osteoporosis, and bone fractures.
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