Protest Gilead Price Increases

The Fair Pricing Coalition has written in protest of Gilead’s constant and excessive price increases for their HIV drugs and is asking others to sign onto our protest letter. The letter and signatories as of 3/19 are below. If you’d like to add your voice click here.

Letter to Gilead:

March 19, 2012
John Martin
James Meyers
Gregory Alton
Coy Stout
David Poole
Amy Flood
Cara Miller
Gilead Sciences, Inc.
333 Lakeside Drive
Foster City, CA 94404

RE: Recent Gilead Drug Price Increases

Ladies and Gentlemen:

We are writing in response to your latest antiretroviral price increases. We are dismayed that Gilead has imposed a 7.9% price increase on Truvada and agreed to a 7.3 % increase on Complera and a 6.6% increase on Atripla in January of 2012.  Because the Fair Pricing Coalition (FPC) has been unable to convince Gilead to take no more than one annual price increase in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI), we have enlisted the assistance of the larger HIV community in this effort.

We have been urging Gilead to refrain from taking more than one annual price increase no greater than the CPI for many years.  In October of 2009, the FPC wrote to our industry partners, including Gilead, about the crisis in access to HIV medication, resulting, in part, from repeated industry price increases taken continuously over a short period of time. Gilead has constantly been one of the worst offenders in this regard.

While we salute Gilead for its commitment to AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs) as well as its co-pay and Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs), we are astounded at how Gilead diminishes the benefit of its philanthropy with these continuous price increases.  It is essential that you understand the negative impact of your actions on people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs).  Since our original 2009 letter, Gilead has raised prices three times each for Viread and Truvada for a total of 22.1% and 24.5% respectively; twice for Emtriva for a total of 15.3%,and agreed to four price increases on for Atripla, totaling 21%, and agreed to a 7.3% price increase for Complera.  These increases are dramatically higher than the rate of inflation. They also come at a time when many people with HIV have lost their jobs, their employer-based insurance coverage and, in many instances, their ADAP coverage, all resulting in desperate patients attempting to access HIV drugs on the open market, a market plagued with constantly increasing drug prices.

As U. S. economic stagnation persists, PLWHAs continue to lose jobs, income, health care benefits and ADAP coverage.  At the same time, third party payers are imposing higher premiums as a direct result of escalating drug prices. Some patients have abruptly stopped treatment because they can no longer afford their medications. Although PAPs exist to help people who cannot afford medication, barriers to access are significant. Many people are unaware of the existence of PAPs. Others cannot cope with the labyrinth of multiple forms and requirements.  Even with Gilead’s PAP eligibility at 500% of the Federal Poverty Level, a PLWHA earning $56,000.00 annually is not PAP eligible and will have to pay $20,000.00 or more to purchase Atripla at retail prices.  This figure represents at least two-thirds of their net income.

The pharmaceutical industry’s extravagant price increases reverberate throughout the healthcare industry.  They come at a time when many ADAPs are covering private insurance payments for their clients and result in ADAPs paying significantly increased premiums as a result of exorbitant price increases.  This policy also results in higher premiums for people with HIV who are insured at a time when more and more people have less and less income due to unemployment, underemployment, reduced wages and reduced hours.  Moreover, higher healthcare costs mean higher co-pays and pharmacy deductibles for people with private insurance and high share-of-cost plans which also result in increased costs to patients as well as decreased benefits.  More restrictive access within insurance plans affects the cost of drugs, but also ancillary services, such as mental health, prevention healthcare, rehabilitation and substance abuse services.

Escalating costs for private and employee healthcare plans occasioned by continuous drug pricing increases will undoubtedly have a deleterious effect on the states as they design their health care exchanges in preparation for the 2014 implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Many states are likely to set a minimum standard for drug coverage for their “essential health benefits” package that requires only limited coverage of antiretrovirals and other higher cost drug classes. Additionally, with non-preferred generic antiretrovirals entering the marketplace we are concerned that higher drug prices will increasingly result in key coverage decisions being driven by cost rather than the standard of care for HIV treatment.

From our perspective, much of this crisis is occasioned by irresponsible pharmaceutical industry behavior. We firmly believe that Gilead’s price increases are particularly egregious because Gilead currently has the lion’s share of the antiretroviral market.We believe that the best way to begin to address these issues is for industry to change its price increase practices and agree to the following:

  • Gilead must agree to take no more than one CPI consistent price increase annually.
  • Gilead must use its sales force to disseminate information regarding its PAP and co-pay programs.
  • Gilead must contribute to foundations that provide co-pay program access to Medicare Part D clients.
  • Gilead must cooperate with the FPC and other stakeholders in designing and implementing a seamless, industry-wide standardized PAP criteria and enrollment process.

Now is the time for Gilead to reconsider its price increase policy and rescind its latest unreasonable price increases. We sincerely hope that Gilead will agree to the above and we look forward to your immediate response.

Yours truly,
The Fair Pricing Coalition and the Undersigned Organizations

AIDS Action Baltimore, Baltimore, MD
AIDS Treatment Activists Coalition, New York, NY
Community Access National Network, Washington, DC
HIV Prevention Justice Alliance, Chicago, IL
Program for Wellness Restoration, Houston, TX
ADAP Advocacy Association (aaa+), Washington, DC
Queerocracy, New York, NY
Treatment Action Group, New York, NY
Positive Life, Palm Springs, CA
Nightsweats & T-cells, Co, Cleveland OH
Positive Outreach Women’s Education & Resources (POWER)
ACT UP –New York,   NYC, NY
ADAP Educational Initiative, Columbus, OH
SAVE ADAP Inc.   Columbus, OH
AIDS Treatment News
Aspirations, Baton Rouge, LA
AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Chicago, IL
International Foundation for Alternative Research in AIDS, Portland, OR
HIV Empowerment & Action League (HEAL), Nashville, TN
Zephyr LTNP Foundation, Inc., Sacramento, CA
Global Network of People Living with HIV, North America
LIGHT Health & Wellness Comprehensive Services, Inc., Baltimore, MD
GALAEI, Philadelphia PA
Community Information Center, Inc., Portland, OR
AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Los Angeles, CA
TAPWA-(Tennessee Association of People with AIDS) Knoxville, TN
Miami Valley Positive for Positives, Dayton, OH
The Church of Christ in Thailand AIDS Ministry
People Living with HIV/AIDS Members, Of Thai Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS TNP+
Children’s Hospital Boston, Neuro-epidemiology, Boston, MA
Most at Risk Populations’ Society in UGANDA (MARPS in UGANDA)