Gilead Sciences requested a three-year extension on its patent for the updated version of the HIV med tenofovir, called tenofovir alafenamide (TAF). But activist group PrEP4All Collaboration filed an emergency petition urging the U.S. Patent and Trade Office to reject the extension.
In the petition, according to STAT News, PrEP4All claims that Gilead purposely delayed the development of TAF because its older and less safe version—tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF)—was already on the market. Postponing the safer version helped the drug manufacturer monopolize its profits while putting patients at risk, the petition alleges.
PrEP4All is not likely to succeed in its request, reports The Washington Post, because the patent office only reviews third-party petitions under “extraordinary” circumstances.
Gilead spokesman Ryan McKeel told the Post, “Any implication that Gilead delayed the development of a drug known to be safer than [the older drug] is false.”
Gilead won the patent for TAF in 2010, and it’s set to expire in 2022. The med is a component of several HIV treatment regimens. If the patent is extended three years, Gilead will retain its monopoly on TAF until 2025. According to the Post, Gilead reported sales of $14.6 billion in HIV meds in 2018.
“It is an absolute disgrace that in America, a greedy drug company like Gilead can deprive hundreds of thousands of Americans of lifesaving HIV medicine to extract more profit, then lie about it and then have the audacity to ask the U.S. government to award it with a longer monopoly to reap tens of billions more in profits,” said Senator Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) in STAT News. “The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office must not reward Gilead for its illegal and immoral behavior.”
TDF (the older version) is a component of the following combo tablets:
- Truvada (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate/emtricitabine), which is also approved as PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis;
- Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate/emtricitabine);
- Complera (rilpivirine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate/emtricitabine);
- Stribild (elvitegravir/cobicistat/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate/emtricitabine); and
- Delstrigo (doravirine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate/lamivudine).
TAF (the newer version) is a component of these combination tablets:
- Descovy (tenofovir alafenamide/emtricitabine), which is also approved as PrEP;
- Biktarvy (bictegravir/tenofovir alafenamide/emtricitabine);
- Odefsey (emtricitabine/rilpivirine/tenofovir alafenamide); and
- Symtuza (darunavir/cobicistat/tenofovir alafenamide/emtricitabine).
To learn more, visit the POZ Basics on HIV Medications.