Gilead Sciences Releases Patent on Generic PrEP Treatment One Year Early

Gilead Sciences will release the patent of a generic version of an HIV prevention treatment one year earlier than expected to only one pharmaceutical company, reported Filter Magazine.

The pharmaceutical company will release the patent to Teva Pharmaceuticals, the world’s largest manufacturer of generic drugs, who will be able to release the drug on September 30, 2020.

In a phone call regarding the company’s 2017 earning report, former CEO of Gilead John Milligan said they wouldn’t release the patent until 2021. This restriction still stands for all pharmaceutical companies except Teva.

“Gilead reached an agreement with Teva Pharmaceuticals in 2014 to allow the early launch of a generic version of Truvada into the market in 2020, a year earlier than required,” Gilead’s executive director for community engagement Douglas M. Brooks told Peter Staley, cofounder of PrEP4All.

Spokesperson for PrEP4All Aaron S. Lord, MD, wrote in a statement that, while the earlier generic release is good news, it’s still not the perfect situation.

“Even their announcement today leaves Gilead with exclusive rights to Truvada as PrEP for another 15 months and Teva as the only generic manufacturer on the US market,” he said, “This will do little to reduce price in a way that will increase access and PrEP4All remains suspicious of the terms and lack of transparency surrounding the Teva settlement. I have to ask, what’s to stop them – other from a desire for profit margins – from releasing the rights now?”

Staley said on Facebook that this deal still prevents companies Amneal, Aurobindo, and Mylan from also producing a generic for Truvada until 2021. Staley called the deal “likely unconstitutional” and vowed to continue to put pressure on both Gilead and Teva until the drug is more available and affordable to all.

Truvada, the only drug approved for PrEP treatment, is 90 percent effective at preventing HIV. However, the drug is extremely expensive, despite being relatively cheap to produce. One month-long supply can cost upwards of $2000. This makes effective HIV prevention out of reach for many people – a problem that could be solved with cheaper generic alternatives.

Gilead has been criticized by many for putting profit over more effective and safer HIV prevention and treatment before. In November, the company was sued for withholding a safer HIV treatment drug because the patent on the original drug hadn’t yet expired.