Gilead greed protests continue at AIDS conference in wake of tax-cutting report

Gilead may have won the patent manipulation suit thrown its way earlier this year by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. But outrage over its pricing practices and IP tactics have hardly died down.

Protestors took to the 21st International AIDS Conference in South Africa with chants of “Gilead kills” and “shame shame,” local news service BDlive reports. And this time, they had some new ammo, thanks to a report by Americans for Tax Fairness published last week. According to the group, the Big Biotech dodged $9.7 billion in U.S. taxes by shifting intellectual assets to Ireland--even as it raked in billions from sales of high-priced meds, including $84,000-per-treatment-course Sovaldi for hep C.

Ire over Gilead’s expensive therapies from the public, payers and patient advocacy groups is nothing new. But it’s grown in recent weeks thanks to the AHF, whose January suit claimed the company had delayed development of a low-toxicity HIV med in “a calculated, anticompetitive manner.” Gilead wanted to keep prices high on fellow drug Viread until its patent was close to expiration, the suit claimed. A recent Los Angeles Times report detailing the development timeline on the new med--now dubbed Genvoya--threw fuel on the fire.

In response to the LA Times story, the AHF launched a “Gilead Greed Kills!” campaign last month and staged a protest during Gilead’s presentation at the Goldman Sachs Healthcare Conference, held at a Los Angeles-area resort. That effort involved a car caravan--complete with a hearse; a double-decker bus; and a small plane towing a “Gilead Greed Kills!” banner that AHF says “flew back and forth over the resort for several hours.”

And while the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California last week granted Gilead’s motion to dismiss the AHF’s case, the group isn’t backing down. It labeled the case “ripe for reconsideration by higher courts,” saying it would take its legal battle all the way up to the Supreme Court if necessary.

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