Largest global AIDS group expects other AIDS drug companies to follow President Obama’s call for “pharmaceutical companies…to do their part to help Americans get access to all the life-saving treatments.
By AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Gilead’s decision follows a sustained advocacy campaign spearheaded by AHF—including protests, print ads, post card mailers and TV spots—that targeted Gilead urging it ‘Do the Right Thing’ on drug pricing
LOS ANGELES (December 5, 2011) AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) today saluted Gilead Sciences for its recent agreement to cut its AIDS drug prices to help address the severe crisis facing the nation’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), 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. On Wednesday of this week, the ADAP Crisis Task Force (ACTF), announced that it had, “…reached new terms with Gilead Sciences that extend additional voluntary discounts and rebates for most Gilead products purchased by state AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs).”
The agreement with Gilead comes at a time when a combination of the nation’s current economic situation, state budget challenges, and increased HIV testing and earlier treatment efforts have produced an unprecedented increase in the number of ADAP enrollees, resulting in severe cost-containment measures in many ADAPs.”
“We commend and thank Gilead Sciences and its chairman and CEO, John Martin, for cementing this new pricing agreement, which offers voluntary discounts and drug price rebates to ADAPs nationwide,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “Over the past year, AHF has been engaged in an aggressive advocacy campaign directed towards Gilead, calling for the company to lower its drug prices for cash-strapped ADAPs. On December 1st—World AIDS Day—Gilead announced that it has agreed to provide these discounts, a generous gesture that will no doubt enable thousands of people with AIDS to finally get the lifesaving medicines they need.”
Finally, we expect other major AIDS drug companies to heed President Obama’s World AIDS Day speech in which he said, ‘The federal government can’t do this alone, so I’m also calling on state governments, and pharmaceutical companies, and private foundations to do their part to help Americans get access to all the life-saving treatments.’ AHF now intends to turn its advocacy efforts towards these companies, to persuade them to follow the President’s call.”
AHF’s Drug Advocacy Targeting Gilead
On Wednesday November 30th, AIDS advocates spearheaded by AHF hosted an ‘Occupy Gilead’ protest on the Foster City, CA campus of Gilead’s headquarters. Previous advocacy actions including an ‘Occupy Gilead’ funeral procession and four similar “die-in” protests and a “pill-bottle” protest, which took place recently outside the Foster City Gilead Sciences Inc.’s headquarters. In addition, AIDS Healthcare Foundation previously released a 30-second television commercial: “Gilead: AIDS Drug Prices to Die For.” The ad, which ran on MSNBC and CNN in San Francisco, Foster City and surrounding areas, urged the company to lower prices immediately and directed viewers to send an e-letter to Gilead CEO John Martin by visiting www.2gilead.org.
Earlier this year, California state Treasurer Bill Lockyer and state Controller John Chiang sent separate letters to Gilead on behalf of threatened ADAP patients. The letters asked CEO John Martin to “provide additional pricing considerations that will translate into a cost savings for the program.”
AHF also ran a series of ‘Gilead: Do the Right Thing’ sticky ‘post it’ note ads that appeared on the front pages of newspapers in the San Mateo and Bay Area, papers which serve readers and homeowners near Gilead’s headquarters. In addition, AHF created a series of six advocacy post cards targeting Gilead that were mailed to select zip codes in and around Foster City to bring awareness of the AIDS drug pricing issue to Gilead employees and neighbors. In fact, one such postcard blasting Gilead over its drug pricing and policies was mailed out last week, but as it was sent out under a bulk mailing agreement, will not arrive in recipients’ mailboxes until next week—nearly a week after Gilead announced its agreement and AIDS Healthcare Foundation lauded the company and CEO. AHF plans to run an appreciation ad in San Mateo and Bay Area newspapers thanking Gilead for doing the right thing on AIDS and also thanking the communities of San Mateo County for supporting this vital effort. A similar appreciation to Gilead and the community may also go out as a post card to area residents.
As of December 1st, there are still 4,274 people on waiting lists in twelve states, according to ADAP Watch, published regularly by NASTAD.
Background on ADAP
With state budgets stretched thin and increasing numbers of unemployed workers without health insurance, many states have been forced to cap enrollment in their AIDS Drug Assistance Programs. Currently, there are more than 4,200 individuals on waiting lists to receive lifesaving AIDS medications in twelve states. Hundreds of patients in need are being added to the waiting list each week. In addition, thousands more Americans living with HIV/AIDS have been dropped from the program or made ineligible to receive medications through ADAP due to stricter eligibility requirements.
Nationwide, ADAPs serve over 165,000 people, accounting for one third of people on AIDS treatment in the U.S. Unfortunately, the need for these programs expands every year, as more and more people become infected and diagnosed with HIV/AIDS; each year thousands of newly diagnosed HIV patients turn to ADAPs because they cannot afford their medicines.