Truvada Patent Might Be Broken
Truvada, also known as PrEP, is an HIV prevention drug that has caused a lot of controversy. The patent for this groundbreaking dug is held by Gilead Scientists. Recently Corey Johnson, speaker of the New York City Council, who is also HIV+, called for the National Institute of Health to break the patent that allows Gilead Scientist to exclusively manufacture and market the drug. The drug when taken consistently reduces the risk of HIV infection by nearly 100 percent.
There has been a movement called PrEP4All #BreakThePatent which encourages the government to invoke the Bayh-Dole Act or the Trademark Law Amendments Act. The Act states that a patent can be broken if the government believes that the action is for the greater good of the public. Corey Johnson is now the highest-ranking U.S. Official to join the movement.
“As an HIV+ elected official, I have a responsibility to the activists who came before me who I believe literally saved my life, to those we have lost to the AIDS crisis, and to those who come after me to do everything in my power to end this epidemic once and for all. The cost of PrEP in our country reveals something deeply rotten about our healthcare system, and the NIH needs to march in and break the patent immediately. This is life or death and there is no time to waste.”
HIV/AIDS activists believe that the current price of Truvada prevents many people from being able to purchase it. However, Gilead released a statement that through their patient assistance program, many patients can get Truvada for as little as $5. Generic Truvada is available in other countries where the price is roughly $25 per month. Since Gilead has exclusive rights to sell it in The United States, currently one year’s supply is $20,000 or $1,700 a month.
In a statement by Johnson, only 8% of the 1.1 million Americans who need PrEP are taking it. In big cities like New York and Miami, Florida this drug is taken mostly by homosexual and bisexual men which means women who are married to HIV+ spouses are not being protected.