“Day of the Dead” protest highlights Gilead drug prices

In News by AHF

AIDS advocates protested drug company Gilead Sciences Inc. over its AIDS drug pricing for the nation’s hard-hit AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP)

Currently, 7,415 Americans are either on ADAP waiting lists to receive lifesaving AIDS medications or have been shut out from the program due to cost-cutting measures

Gilead Protest Video
Scores of AIDS advocates participated in a funeral procession and mock “die-in” protest hosted by AIDS Healthcare Foundation yesterday. Starting in Oakland, California at 7:30 AM, the dedicated group traveled to the headquarters of Gilead Sciences Inc. in Foster City to protest the company’s pricing of its HIV/AIDS medications.

The four-car funeral procession, directed by two funeral escorts, slowly made its way over the San Mateo Bridge, traveling nearly 30 miles to the Foster City Gilead Science’s headquarters, where protestors will honored and remembered those who have died of AIDS while on AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) waitlists.  AIDS advocates wore skeleton masks, dressed in all black, and held banners and handmade signs with the message: “Gilead, do the right thing!”

The mock funeral procession and “die-in” protest served to highlight the severe crisis facing the nation’s ADAPs, a network of federal and state funded programs that provide life-saving HIV treatments to low income, uninsured, and underinsured individuals living with HIV/AIDS nationwide. The advocates’ goal is to raise public awareness and educate community members—including Gilead employees—regarding the steep prices that government programs are paying for Gilead’s blockbuster HIV/AIDS drug, Atripla (efavirenz & tenofovir & emtricitabine)—currently $10,000 per patient, per year for ADAP.

“It is important to make this message clear to Gilead employees, as hard-hit government-funded programs like ADAP bare the brunt of Gilead’s greed,” said Eileen Garcia, Community Outreach Manager for AHF and one of the protest leaders.  “Atripla is one of Gilead’s top selling AIDS drugs. The cost of this single drug is over $10,000 per year, and ADAP simply cannot afford to pay this as well as other AIDS drugs without a price relief.  Given that Atripla is sold ‘at cost’ for $600 per year in developing countries, Gilead could lower its price significantly, while continuing to make a large profit, yet it has not done so.”

As of October 27th, there are 6,689 people on ADAP waiting lists in twelve states, according to ADAP Watch, published regularly by the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD). The total number of people on that have either been dropped from the program, been place on a waiting list or are unable to enroll due to lowered eligibility is at least 7,415.

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