AOC grills pharma exec about why the HIV-prevention drug Prep costs $8 in Australia costs $1,780 in the USA

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Ooh! Ooh! [raises hand] I know why!


Imagine how the public would have reacted if a private company had done something like this with the Polio vaccine back in the 50s.


This is the kind of story I always think of when anti-vaxers talk conspiratorially about vaccines as some kind of profit factory.

If vaccines were being run fully capitalistically, then each shot would be $1,780.

Prep is an actual example of medicine run for profit over people.


Uhm, I assume you don’t mean PrEP here, which just means pre-exposure prophylaxis, which is distinctly an example of a drug being very effectively used as a public health measure. It seems the problem is Truvada being sold at a huge amount because patents. I don’t understand the the point about the US owning the patents. Is anyone able to clarify?

It also seems that Gilead are currently trying to extend the expired patent in jurisdictions under the ECJ. I’ve no idea what the grounds they think they have to do this are.

There’s a class action antitrust lawsuit brewing on the topic… the twitter thread covers some of the whose-patent is-it-anyway.


PrEP doesn’t have to be run by profit-seeking companies, but it is in this case, inarguably.

People are getting HIV because the drug price is too high for mass use.

It would have a magnitude-greater level of effectiveness at less than $1,780 per month.


Which part of “The US owns the patents” is hard to understand, exactly? Just asking


Why the snark? Clearly there has been something going on to mean there aren’t generics.

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“It’s got our label on it! That’s worth $1700 a box!”


Gilead actually claims that the patent isn’t valid, so the government can’t enforce it, but they’ve never challenged the patent because they are the sole manufacturer who hasn’t been challenged by the government on their prices (which are now around $2000, while originally were $400), which they claim are so high so as to fund future research…despite them benefiting greatly from tax-funded research and grants.

Is greed such a hard conclusion to come to?


Alright, so let me get my thinking straight on this…

  1. Government holds the patent

  2. Pharma company manufactures it

  3. No other company can manufacture it because they don’t want to bother with licensing it, or government won’t license it…

  4. No other company can sue for patent enforcement, because they’d have no standing in court

  5. This is basically a government granted monopoly

That about sum it up?


Just to clarify the terms because there is some confusion here –

Truvada is a drug that HIV-positive people take to prevent AIDS. Generally, if you are on Truvada then you will have undetectably low amounts of HIV in your bloodstream, and cannot pass the virus to anyone else. People take Truvada for the rest of their lives, and as far as is currently known, the HIV will reappear if you stop taking it.

“Pre-exposure prophylaxis” (PrEP) refers to a medical protocol whereby people who are not HIV-positive take Truvada every day, which makes them unlikely to contract the virus. If you are exposed to HIV while on PrEP, the virus will never be present in your body, even after you stop PrEP.


ID doc here; wanted to offer a correction to this central point in the first paragraph:

First clause stands; comprehensive public health measures including the widespread deployment of PrEP could absolutely end the epidemic spread of HIV.

The second clause is off, though; Truvada for pre-exposure prophylaxis is given to people who are HIV negative if they are at increased risk of acquiring the virus, and it reduces their risk sharply.

There’s another key point that might have gotten confused in there, which is that people who are HIV positive and take their medications reliably to the point of completely suppressing their viral load are not at all infectious to other people. (The meds can include Truvada, but it’s incomplete for treatment purposes and will never be given alone.)

Just amazing medicine, but it doesn’t change the cupidity of capital.


Mid-stage capitalism’s equivalent of the Overton window back then was almost entirely not overlapped with today’s end-stage capitalism Overton window. Regulatory and political oversight looks/looked through the same windows - and today’s badly needs adjusting.


Because they can!


Glad you mentioned that, because for various reasons Jonas Salk specifically decided not to patent his vaccine. Meanwhile, this smug creep effectively swiped a patent for a med created on the taxpayer’s dime when the government wouldn’t enforce the patent and then gouged patients with it – not for no reason but to enrich himself and his company’s shareholders and executives.


@doctorow FYI it’s “PrEP” for Pre Exposure Prophylaxis, not “Prep”. :slight_smile:


No it is not. It is very useful as an individual health intervention, but there’s no evidence that PrEP has shifted the speed at which state and U.S. national HIV incidence rates were already declining. A public health intervention would be subsidizing access to PrEP for anyone.


How about she actually introduces and PASSES a bill that shuts this down vs “scoring public debate points”?

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