AHF to Urge Gilead to 'Do the Right Thing' on AIDS Drug Pricing at May 12th AGM

AHF to Urge Gilead to ‘Do the Right Thing' on AIDS Drug Pricing at May 12th AGM
While AIDS advocates protest outside, AHF representatives plan to question CEO John C. Martin during annual general meeting about Gilead's pricing of Atripla for nation's hard-hit AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs)

Gilead had $6.5 billion in AIDS drug sales in 2010, enjoying a 36.5% profit margin; at the same time, 7,873 low-income HIV/AIDS patients in 11 states across the country linger on waiting lists today to access lifesaving medications through ADAP


WHAT:     AIDS DRUG PRICING PROTEST/Gilead Sciences' annual general meeting
  9:30 AM Pacific Time-outside the Westin San Francisco Airport Hotel
WHAT:   AHF PRESS CONFERENCE-immediately following Gilead's meeting
  11:30 AM Pacific Time-Hickory/Hawthorne Room @ Westin SF Airport Hotel
WHEN:   THURSDAY, May 12th 2011 Note: Gilead's AGM starts at 10am
  -- AIDS drug protest outside Westin Hotel-9:30 AM Pacific
  -- Press Conference Hickory/Hawthorne Room @ Westin-11:30 AM Pacific
WHERE:   Westin San Francisco Airport Hotel
  1 Old Bayshore Hwy 
  Millbrae CA 94030 
CONTACTS:   Ged Kenslea, AHF Communications Director (323) 791-5526 cell (323) 308-1833 office
  Lori Yeghiayan, Associate Director of Communications (323) 377-4312 cell (323) 308-1834 office

While a group of AIDS activists and advocates protest Gilead Sciences' drug pricing and policies outside the Westin San Francisco Airport Hotel, another group of advocates from AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) will attend Gilead's Annual General Meeting Thursday May 12th at 10:00am in Millbrae CA (Westin San Francisco Airport Hotel, 1 Old Bayshore Hwy, Millbrae CA 94030) intending to speak at and question Gilead executives regarding Gilead's pricing and policies on its HIV/AIDS medications. In light of the severe crisis facing the nation's AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), a network of federal and state funded programs that provide life-saving HIV treatments to low income, uninsured, and underinsured individuals living with HIV/AIDS nationwide, the advocates plan to speak in the ‘question and answer' section of the AGM to press Gilead CEO John C. Martin on the company's current pricing for ADAP for its blockbuster HIV/AIDS drug, Atripla (efavirenz & tenofovir & emtricitabine)-currently $10,000 per patient, per year.

As of May 5th, there are nearly 7,900 low-income AIDS patients in 11 states who have been placed on waiting lists to access lifesaving HIV/AIDS medications through the nation's network of ADAPs. However, in a particularly Dickensian move, several states have recently capped further enrollment in their ADAPs or are sharply reducing eligibility for their programs based on a percentage of Federal Poverty Level (FPL) income (in some cases cutting the FPL-eligible income from 400% to 200%), effectively denying needy patients access to medications, yet because enrollment is officially capped-or eligibility eliminated-these additional patients are never formally added to the states' ADAP waiting list rosters.

AHF Question for Gilead and CEO John C. Martin

As you are well aware, the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) is in the midst of a financial crisis that has left nearly 7,900 HIV patients without reliable access to their medicines.

Atripla, Gilead's top selling AIDS drug, accounts for over 20% of ADAP expenditures, generating millions in revenue for your company. However, at a cost of over $10,000 per year, ADAP can no longer afford to pay for this and other Gilead drugs without price relief. Given that Atripla is sold "at cost" for $600 per year in developing countries, Gilead can lower the price significantly and still make a huge profit, yet it has not.

Why has Gilead refused to lower the price of its drugs for the ADAP program?

Facts About Gilead and Atripla:


  • Atripla ADAP Price: $10,000 per year.
  • Atripla sales: $2.9 billion in 2010.
  • Total Gilead AIDS Drug Sales in 2010: $6.5 billion
  • Gilead's Profit Margin: 36.5%
  • John Martin's Bonus: $57 million

Background on ADAP


With state budgets stretched thin and increasing numbers of unemployed workers without health insurance, many states have been forced to cap enrollment in their AIDS Drug Assistance Programs. Currently, there are 7,700 individuals on waiting lists to receive lifesaving AIDS medications in eleven states. Hundreds of patients in need are being added to the waiting list each week. In addition, thousands more Americans living with HIV/AIDS have been dropped from the program or made ineligible to receive medications through ADAP due to stricter eligibility requirements.

Nationwide, ADAPs serve over 165,000 people, accounting for one third of people on AIDS treatment in the U.S. Unfortunately, the need for these programs expands every year, as more and more people become infected and diagnosed with HIV/AIDS; each year thousands of newly diagnosed HIV patients turn to ADAPs because they cannot afford their medicines.

Gilead's Pursuit of FDA-approval of Truvada for Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)

During Gilead's annual general meeting, representatives from AHF also intent to question John Martin on his company's pursuit of FDA-approval for the expanded use of its best selling AIDS treatment, Truvada, as a possible form of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent the transmission of HIV.

Truvada, a drug compound that consists of Gilead's drugs Viread (tenofovir DF) and Emtriva (emtricitabine), is currently FDA-approved for use as part of antiretroviral therapy combinations for individuals already living with HIV or AIDS. FDA-approval for pre-exposure use as a possible form of HIV prevention for those NOT infected with the virus would be a first for the FDA, and a move that AHF and many other AIDS advocates believe would set a dangerous precedent.

Gilead's likely pursuit of FDA-approval for expanding the use of its best selling $35 per day AIDS drug to include use as a form of HIV prevention comes following a recent and widely-reported study of 2,500 high risk gay men using Truvada which showed an overall 44% effectiveness rate in preventing HIV transmission. In addition, last month, the CDC announced the abrupt halt of an ongoing study in Africa of the use of Gilead's Truvada as a possible form of pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV prevention in women because the, "...trial could not demonstrate efficacy."

"Our intention with these questions and actions targeting Gilead over its AIDS drug pricing and policies is not to bash the company, but to encourage Gilead to reflect on its own remarkable mission and history as a very different sort of drug company," said Whitney Engeran-Cordova, Senior Director of Public Health Division for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "Questions about Gilead's drug pricing and its likely pursuit of FDA-approval of Truvada as a form of HIV prevention are legitimate questions that should be discussed openly by the company and the community. The nation's network of AIDS Drug Assistance Programs face desperate circumstances because of high prices for drugs like Gilead's Atripla. Regarding PrEP, there is no downside for Gilead in waiting for real world research that might justify expanded approval for use of the drug Truvada as prevention. AHF is willing to work in partnership with Gilead toward solutions for ADAP as well as improved forms of HIV prevention and to create and foster dialogue with the community, but we will not rest and never stop should companies like Gilead continue pursue pricing and policies that conflict with the greater good and health and well-being of the public."

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and services to more than 160,000 individuals in 26 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific region and Eastern Europe. www.aidshealth.org