Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez takes pharma CEO to task over price of HIV drug Truvada

Narjas Zatat@Narjas_Zatat
Friday 17 May 2019 14:45
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Alexandria Ocasio Cortez delivered a fiery takedown of the CEO of Gilead, the company that makes the HIV drug Truvada for PrEP over its price.

During a congressional hearing, Ocasio-Cortez pushed Daniel O’Day on why his company’s drug cost so much more in the US than in Australia.

The back-and-forth that followed demonstrates AOC’s dedication to justice:

AOC: "Mr O’Day you’re the CEO of Gilead. Is it true that Gilead made three billion in profits from the sale of Truvada in 2018?"

O’Day: "Three billion in revenue."

AOC: "The current list price is $2,000 in the United States, correct?"

O’Day: "The current list price is $1,780 in the United States and just to correct the three billion is a global figure."

AOC: "So the list price is almost $2,000 in the United States. Why is it eight dollars in Australia?"

O’Day: "Truvada still has patent protection in the United States. And the rest is generic. I can’t comment on the price in Australia of the generic medicines but it is generically available in other parts of the world and will be generically available in the United States as of September 2020 based upon Gilead agreeing to support generic entries one year early."

AOC: "Thank you."

The New York congresswoman continued:

I think it’s important that we notice here that we, the public, we the people, developed this drug, we paid for this drug, we led and developed all the grounding patents to create PrEP and then that patent has been privatised despite the fact that the patent is owned by the public; we refuse to enforce it, there is no reason this should be $2,000 a month, people are dying because of it and there’s no enforceable reason for it.

We own the intellectual property for it…people are dying for no reason.

And if that wasn’t enough of a takedown, she added that she wasn’t trying to “vilify” him or his work, but rather to highlight an issue with the system of incentives in the US.

This isn't about you as an individual or who you are or your character. This is about a system of incentives that we have set up. And when it comes to who to blame for this, I don't blame you.

"I blame us," she added. "I blame this body because every single developed country in the world guarantees health care as a right except us, except the United States, because we can't get it together."

After, AOC took to Twitter and answered the question she posted O’Day about why the cost of the life-saving medicine was marginal to that of the US.

“Spoiler: Because Australia has universal healthcare,” she wrote simply.

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