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Gilead illegally bribed a generic competitor to delay a competing version of the blockbuster HIV drug Truvada, according to a class action lawsuit filed by investors in the drug manufacturer.
The complaint (PDF) was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on September 17, presenting claims for the Jacksonville Police Officers and Fire Fighters Health Insurance Trust, as well as other similarly situated investors.
The Truvada lawsuit outlines an alleged scheme between Gilead Sciences, Inc. and Cipla Ltd. and Cipla USA, which claims Gilead bribed Cipla not to release a generic version of Truvada, instead giving them a license to product a lesser known HIV drug, Atripla, or providing them a license to produce Hepatitis C drugs in India.
According to the complaint, this allowed Gilead to continue selling Truvada at premium prices without generic competition.
The class action lawsuit, and others like it, note that Gilead constructed a web of joint development agreements, preventing its co-conspirators from competing against Gilead’s tenofovir disoproxil (TDF) based drugs.
Truvada, however, is the flagship of this family of HIV drugs. In addition to its role as an HIV treatment, Truvada is also the go-to preventative HIV treatment, known as pre-exposure prophylaxix (PrEP).
The lawsuit is the latest in a growing number of claims filed against Gilead, claiming the company acted unscrupulously and illegally to keep profit margins high on its HIV drugs.
In addition to sweetheart deals made with competing drug companies to stifle competition. Critics say Gilead also held back the release of a safer formulation in order to maximize profits from Truvada and similar drugs until the patents ran out.
Gilead faces a growing number of individual Truvada lawsuits filed by users of the HIV drug who have experienced bone and kidney problems caused by tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) contained in the medication.
Those plaintiffs claim that Gilead knew about a safer alternative in 2004, known as tenofovir alafenamide (TAF), which is used in Descovy and other drugs introduced in recent years, yet held off on development of the newer drugs until Truvada and other TDF-based drugs started facing generic competition.