ACT UP Reacts To Gilead Donation

Factions of ACT UP, the worldwide LGBT+ rights group, have today spoken out against Gilead's plan to roll out PrEP treatment for 200,000 Americans.

Activists outside the Four courts holding protest signs against pharmaceutical giant Gilead

Worldwide factions of the LGBT+ rights group ACT UP have today criticised bio-pharmaceutical mega-company Gilead.

The company announced yesterday that it plans to roll out pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a highly effective drug that helps prevent HIV transmission, for over 200,000 Americans.

In response to the announcement, United States President Donald Trump tweeted: “Great news today: My Administration just secured a historic donation of HIV prevention drugs from Gilead to help expand access to PrEP for the uninsured and those at risk. Will help us achieve our goal of ending the HIV epidemic in America!”

ACT UP’s criticism of Gilead is directed at the company’s maintaining a stronghold on the patent for the drug.

This prevents cheaper, generic versions of Truvada (PrEP’s brand name) from being sold to the general population.

ACT UP New York responded to the news by tweeting the following: ““Donation”? Working with pharma is not how we are going to achieve universal PrEP access. The U.S. taxpayer funded the research to this prevention drug. The government must leverage their power to #BreakThePatent once and for all.”

Will St. Leger, noted artist and member of ACT UP’s Dublin faction, today tweeted: “Before we start praising @GileadSciences for their donation of #PrEP to those in the US, remember this is same pharma giant in the high court in #Ireland this week trying to stop generic #PrEP been [sic] sold in Ireland.”

Although the patent expired in Ireland in 2017, Gilead has initiated a trial in the Irish High Court to ensure the validity of the Supplementary Protection Certificate (SPC). If successful, they will maintain a monopoly on Truvada until 2020.

According to ACT UP Dublin’s website, “Two generic versions of Truvada—marketed by Mylan and Teva, the defendants in the current litigation—are currently available in Irish community pharmacies, retailing for as little as €50 for a month’s supply. Before the launch of generics in December 2017, PrEP users in Ireland would have had to pay over €400 per month for branded Truvada.”

High prices for a drug that is proven to prevent HIV transmission in almost 100 per cent of cases come at a time when Ireland is facing a HIV crisis.

Studies by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) show that the number of people diagnosed with HIV in Ireland last year rose by 8 per cent from the previous year’s figures.

In 2018, there was a reported 531 new diagnoses compared to 2017’s 492. This figure continues to rise despite a general decline in rates across the European Union.

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