U.S. Reps to Gilead: Did your donation of free HIV prevention drug Truvada have strings attached?

In May, Gilead pledged to donate 2.4 million bottles of its HIV drug Truvada to the U.S. governments effort to eradicate the disease, partly by preventing new infections. Gilead even promised it would donate its newer drug, Descovy, if the FDA approves it for prevention as it did for Truvada. But now Gilead is facing accusations that its largesse may have suspicious underpinnings. On Wednesday the House Oversight Committee’s chairman, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), and three colleagues sent a letter (PDF) to Gilead demanding details about what led to the company’s generous offer. Specifically, the committee wants to know if the Truvada donation involved negotiations between Gilead and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) over patents on the product. A spokesperson for Gilead said in an email to FiercePharma that the company is “reviewing the full scope of the request and will respond to the committee in a timely manner.” Gilead has been under fire from the House Oversight Committee since May, when new CEO Daniel O’Day was called before Congress to be grilled about Truvada’s use in HIV prevention, known as PrEP. Much of the four-hour discussion focused on cost. One expert who testified during the sometimes-contentious hearing said that Truvada is available in Australia for $8 per month but that it costs $1,780 per month in the U.S. Hence only 10% of people who could benefit by using the drug for HIV prevention are receiving it, the committee concluded.

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