Drugmaker will donate meds for USA push to end HIV epidemic

The Trump administration plan seeks to reduce new HIV diagnoses by 75 percent within five years, and by 90 percent within 10 years by targeting 48 counties in the United States, D.C., and San Juan, Puerto Rico, as well as seven states where the epidemic is mostly in rural areas.

The donation, which lasts until 2030, will transition to Descovy (emtricitabine+tenofovir alafenamide) if it is approved for use as PrEP, Gilead's proposed follow-up PrEP drug that has fewer side-effects. The agreement would end after 11 years, or when a generic version of Descovy becomes commercially available, whichever comes first. The Trump administration has agreed to cover costs associated with distributing the drugs.

President Donald Trump said in a celebratory tweet.

At the moment only 200,000 of the estimated 1.1 million Americans considered at risk for HIV now receive Truvada for PrEP.

President Trump hailed a deal with Gilead for PrEP donation as "great news".

The NYT reports: "H.I.V. activists and experts had mixed reactions to the news".

The news comes after years of activism on behalf of HIV/AIDS activists, who argued that Truvada's steep price hike made the life-saving drug inaccessible to the low-income populations at a high risk of contracting HIV.

Activist Peter Staley pointed out to the NYT that the DOJ is investigating whether Gilead failed to pay the CDC royalties for work it did developing Truvada: "Neither Azar's announcement nor Gilead says whether this is part of some settlement of that Justice Department investigation".

However some commentators suggested that this is a shrewd marketing tactic on the part of Gilead, allowing it to raise awareness of Descovy ahead of any approval.

Trial results announced in early March show Descovy matched Truvada's effectiveness at preventing infection, and Gilead has said it plans to file the drug with regulators as a result.

However, the activists did state that this still leaves Gilead with exclusive rights for another 15 months and Teva as the only generic maker in the USA market.

NBC News reported: 'Activists who have been pushing Gilead to #BreakThePatent hailed the news Wednesday, calling it "a victory for the LGBTQ+ community, for HIV activists, and for US taxpayers", but also tamped down expectations.

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