Gilead and Big Pharma: Profits over Patients

Gilead Science is another example of a big pharma company who found out that keeping people sick is more profitable than getting patients back to health. In 2004, it started researching a new version of the drug Tenofovir, which is used for AIDS treatment. Although the results were promising, and indicated that the new form of the drug would be less hard on the kidney and bones, company representatives still made a deliberate decision to slow down the research and the release of the drug. Why is that?

The patents for the older version of AIDS drugs, Viread and Truvada, also owned by Gilead Sciences, were valid until 2015. So by delaying the release of the new form of the drug, Gilead could enjoy a few more years of profiting over this monopoly. Only after this would they put the new version on the market and benefit from the new patent (which generic drug makers cannot use until 2031).

The outcome was nothing less than patients having no choice but to buy the older version of the drug, and sacrifice their kidneys and bones in order to stay alive. Once again, healthcare under capitalism means profits first, people’s health second.

This article is reprinted from the Speak Out Now healthcare newsletter at Kaiser and Highland Hospitals in Oakland, CA.