AOC asks pharma CEO why $2,000 HIV drug costs just $8 in Australia: 'People are dying for no reason'
By Editor - Fri May 17, 8:30 pm
New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had a simple question for the head of a major drug company: why should a $2,000 HIV treatment be available for just $8 in Australia? “You’re the CEO of Gilead. Is it true that Gilead made $3bn in profits from Truvada in 2018,” Ms Ocasio-Cortez asked Daniel O’Day, the CEO of California-based Gilead Sciences, during a hearing of the House committee on oversight and reform.Mr O’Day replied that the company had generated $3bn in revenues, not profits.Referring to Truvada, a drug used to reduce the transmission of HIV, Ms Ocasio-Cortez, pointed out that while it cost almost $2,000 in the US, it was available for just $8 in places such as Australia. In South Africa, it costs just $6.“Truvada still has patent protection in the United States and in the rest of the world it is generic,” said Mr O’Day said. “It will be generically available in the United States as of September 2020.”According to The Hill, the congresswoman replied: “I think it’s important here that we notice that we the public, we the people, developed this drug. We paid for this drug, we lead and developed all the patents to create Prep and then that patent has been privatised despite the fact that the patent is owned by the public, who refused to enforce it.“There’s no reason this should be $2,000 a month. People are dying because of it and there’s no enforceable reason for it.”Gilead disputes that the Centres for Disease Control (CDC), the preeminent public health body in the US, owns part of the patent for Truvada, a so-called pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP, treatment.Mr O’Day cited a number of examples in which scientists had researched use of the drug for PrEP, as the prevention use is known, before the CDC filed its patent application in 2006, according to the Washington Post.Committee chairman Elijah Cummings and other Democrats, said tens of millions of dollars in government grants, as well as direct research conducted by government scientists, had helped prove Truvada could be used to prevent HIV