Gilead nets $33M in settlement over yearslong HIV drug fraud case in Florida

Gilead Sciences is making serious headway on prosecuting Florida clinics that exploited its access program for HIV prevention drugs.

In the latest twist in a yearslong case, Gilead has settled with healthcare clinic Well Care and certain executives for $33 million, a court filing shows. Gilead filed its original lawsuit against more than 50 Florida healthcare clinics, prescribers, medical laboratories and pharmacies back in 2020.

At the time, the company said the defendants established a scheme to recruit homeless or low-income people in Florida to seek fraudulent preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) prescriptions through the company's free-drug access program. Then the participating clinics pocketed reimbursement payments, Gilead argued, and often took the medicines back to repackage them and sell them on the black market.

"Well Care and its president, Mike Peacock, played a central role in the conspiracy by partnering with one of the main defendant groups to expand the fraudulent scheme to Jacksonville and enrich themselves at Gilead's expensive," a Gilead spokesperson told Fierce Pharma. "The Well Care defendants actively recruited and paid thousands of vulnerable Floridians to enroll in Gilead's free-drug program for PrEP regardless of whether they wanted or needed PrEP medication, putting patient safety at risk."

In addition to forking over $33 million, the settlement prohibits Well Care and its execs from participating in any Gilead access programs in the future.

Florida has been a breeding ground for HIV drug schemes as of late. Just last week, a Florida man was arrested for illegally distributing more than $230 million in adulterated medicines. Earlier this month, two other Florida men were sentenced after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in a $9 million scheme.

Previously in the PrEP fraud case, Gilead and certain other defendants entered settlements in April. The terms of those deals weren't disclosed. A Gilead spokesperson told Fierce Pharma that of the 58 defendants named in the original compliant, only 12 remain.