Ocasio-Cortez Asks Pharma CEO Why HIV Drug Costs $8 Overseas but $1,780 in US

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"I think it's important that we notice here that we the public, we the people, developed this drug, we paid for this drug," Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) said during a House Oversight and Reform Committee on Thursday. (Photo: Alex Brandon/AP)

Reprinted from Common Dreams by Jake Johnson on May 16, 2019.

During a House hearing on Thursday, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asked the CEO of one of America’s largest pharmaceutical companies a simple but crucial question: Why does a life-saving HIV drug that costs $8 a month in Australia have a $2,000 price tag in the US?

Gilead chief executive Daniel O’Day declined to comment on the low price of Truvada for PrEP in Australia, but said the reason the cost is close to $2,000—”the current list price is $1,780,” he said—in the United States is because the drug has “patent protection.”

As the Washington Post reported in March, the development of Truvada as a treatment for HIV was “almost fully funded by US taxpayers.”

The US government patented the treatment in 2015, according to the Post, but has “opted not to file an infringement suit to enforce” the patent even as Gilead—which argues the government patent is invalid—rakes in billions of dollars in profits from Truvada.

Ocasio-Cortez highlighted these facts during the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Thursday. …

Common Dreams 5/16

About Jeffrey Burman 4157 Articles
Jeff Burman represents assistant editors on the Guild’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at jeffrey.s.burman.57@gmail.com.

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