Gilead, Teva and J&J's HIV antitrust case inches closer to trial as judge keeps most claims on the table

Gilead Sciences is no stranger to legal claims surrounding its market-leading HIV franchise. Now, the company and two other major biopharma players are heading to trial over claims they worked together to restrict competition in the marketplace.

In a sprawling case first filed in 2019, a federal judge in California declined to completely toss allegations against Gilead, Johnson & Johnson and Teva Pharmaceuticals. Instead, he threw out certain claims, which will serve to specify the scope of the arguments to be heard in court.  

The litigation kicked off when a group of plaintiffs in 2019 accused Gilead and “co-conspirators” of pulling off a long-running scheme to keep hold of a monopoly in the HIV field and block competition.

Bristol Myers Squibb, previously a defendant, pulled itself out of the mess last April with a $11 million settlement

As for Johnson & Johnson, the company's Janssen unit is involved in a category of claims centered on combination HIV drugs that include components from multiple companies. So-called no-generic restraint deals ensure that even if one of the drugs in the combination loses patent protection, generics can't be substituted for that component, plaintiffs say.

Teva, for its part, is involved in separate arguments. The plaintiffs say Teva and Gilead inked an anticompetitive agreement allowing the generics drug maker special privileges on the market.

These claims and more form the plaintiffs' central argument that Gilead built a complex scheme to dominate the HIV market.

In legal filings, Gilead, J&J and Teva sought to throw out the case, but California District Judge Edward M. Chen only tossed certain parts of the lawsuits. The companies are now heading to trial in May, Law360 reports.

Gilead remains confident in the merits of its case and looks forward to defending itself against the remaining claims in court, a company spokesperson told Fierce Pharma over email. 

“The antitrust claims against Gilead alleged in this lawsuit and others like it are without merit and do not accurately reflect antitrust laws or Gilead’s history of innovative collaboration and competition in HIV medicines," the spokesperson said.

Gilead has faced similar claims before. Last August, it was accused of anticompetitive conduct in a 2014 patent settlement with generics maker Cipla. In 2019, 140 patients in 31 states called out the company's alleged delay of TAF-based medicines in favor of older TDF drugs, resulting in unnecessary medical problems, the lawsuit said.