Gilead Sciences, the company that supplies Ireland with the drug Truvada, will have a full court hearing in mid-October to determine whether the HSE can source a generic form of the drug from the pharmaceutical giant’s competitors.
In July, GCN reported that Gilead was taking legal action to stop the HSE from securing generic Truvada from Actavis and Mylan, the company’s competitors, for the purposes of HIV prevention as PrEP.
PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a once-daily medication which is highly successful at preventing HIV-negative people from becoming HIV-positive. For more info on PrEP, check out our PrEP guide here. Truvada is also used in the treatment of HIV.
Act Up Dublin protested outside Dublin’s Four Courts today to push for access to the generic form of Truvada for PrEP and for Gilead to supply the medication at a reduced price.
Speaking outside the four courts this morning, Act Up Dublin member Andrew Leavitt appealed to Gilead to reduce the price of their medication.
“We’re here in front of the Four Courts in Dublin to let Gilead Sciences know that it’s time to drop the price of Truvada,” said Leavitt.
“Truvada is the only drug approved for use as PrEP in Europe and the price of it is so high that most European health systems can’t afford to make it available.
“So it’s time for Gilead to recognise that they are the single biggest obstacle to PrEP access in Europe and to drop the price,” he said.
Act Up Dublin issued a statement regarding Gilead’s proceedings to block the sale of generic Truvada within the EU, urging the company to reconsider its position and “do the right thing” for the betterment of Irish and EU citizens and not its bottom line:
“Gilead is in court today seeking injunctions to prevent cheaper generic versions of Truvada from being marketed in Ireland.
“Regardless of the outcome of the High Court actions, it’s clear that Gilead needs to do the right thing and help expand access to PrEP by offering Truvada at a humane and realistic price,” the statement reads.
The statement confirms that a 2016 European Centre for Disease Control report identified the cost of the HIV preventing drug as its “single biggest barrier to PrEP access in Europe”.
If a High Court ruling in favour of allowing the HSE to source generic Truvada from other pharmaceutical companies is handed out in mid-October, the company may have little choice but to reduce the price of its offering to compete in Ireland.
Last month, sexual health advocate Adam Shanley urged the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, to address the issue of PrEP access, decrying the Minister’s continued silence on the matter as an “indictment to his position” regarding the health of men who have sex with men.
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