Wednesday, February 12, 2020 - The Trump Administration's nationwide initiative to wipe out AIDS in ten years is now in its second full month of giving away anti-HIV transmission drug Truvada and already the program is being called out as disingenuous. Gilead Sciences has launched a television advertising campaign for Truvada replacement drug Descovy and the timing could not be more suspicious. Gilead, the maker of Truvada whose patent is expiring later in 2020 and will face low-cost generic competition is seeking to seamlessly transition patients from one drug to the other fulfilling the worst speculation of the company's critics. LGBTQ activists claim that the program is not what it is cracked up to be and that only around 4000 new patients will receive the drug and for only one half of a year at that. Gilead rushed Descovy to market using the FDA's fast-track approval system and the Truvada replacement drug is not yet approved for use by women. Truvada lawyers are helping families and individuals affected from Truvada medication to treat AIDS such as broken bones and kidney failure and offer a free consultation.
Slate.com tells readers that the transition campaign is off to flying colors. "it's already converted 10 percent of Truvada users to Descovy and could convert a total of 50 to 60 percent by September." One reason for the success Gilead is having with the switch is that gay men are eager to get Descovy as it is being perceived through social media as safer than Truvada. PrEP4All co-founder James Krellenstein called Ready, Set, PrEP "a publicity gimmick."
According to Fierce Pharma.com (FP), Gilead company spokesperson and vice president of U.S. sales and marketing for HIV treatment and prevention Chris Freeman told reporters that switching from one drug to another was not the company's most important concern. "We know that's an important link for people. Prevention is often associated heavily with Truvada, but at the same time, we're trying to raise awareness of HIV risk and all the prevention options that are out there while introducing a new one in Descovy PrEP, " according to FP.
Although Gilead is set on promoting the transition, medical experts think that people should not be eager to make the switch. An article in Aids Map.com recently advised readers, "Although there are now two drug combinations which can be used for HIV prevention as PrEP, there is stronger and broader evidence for the older combination (Truvada), which should remain the first-line choice, four leading US doctors argue in the Annals of Internal Medicine today."
It has been speculated that Gilead's generosity for donating 2.4 million bottles per year of Truvada and now Descovy was driven more by desiring to maintain the $20,000 per year income per patient the company earns from selling Truvada than for its concern for public health. Descovy is thought to have been held off of the market for years until now, exposing thousands of patients to the less effective and more potentially toxic drug. 86 people that have experienced osteoporosis and kidney failure have filed a joint lawsuit this week claiming exactly that. Gilead may be counting on the publicity from the trial, even if they lose and are forced to pay punitive damages, to bolster sales of Descovy as people are urged to switch drugs.
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