Pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences will donate the anti-HIV drug Truvada to the federal government so it can move toward its goal toeliminate HIV transmission in a decade.
“My administration just secured a historic donation of HIV prevention drugs from Gilead to help expand access… for the uninsured and those at risk,” President Trump tweeted Thursday.
Great news today: My Administration just secured a historic donation of HIV prevention drugs from Gilead to help expand access to PrEP for the uninsured and those at risk. Will help us achieve our goal of ending the HIV epidemic in America!https://t.co/wux5QasWgW
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)
May 9, 2019
The drug, which carries a list price of $20,000 annually, is highly effective at preventing the spread of HIV and will be key to halting the current trend of 40,000 people in the U.S. getting newly infected by HIV every year. The medication is supposed to be taken by people who risk infection, including through drug use or having sex without a condom with someone who may be infected.
Trump announced his HIV initiative to reduce the spread of HIV by 90% over 10 yearsduring his State of the Union Address, and it must be passed by Congress to be authorized. The president has asked for $291 million toward the effort during the first year.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the announcement Thursday would mean that people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to access or afford the treatment would get it.
“The majority of Americans who are at risk and who could protect themselves with PrEP are still not receiving the medication,” he said, using the formal name for the drug, pre-exposure prophylaxis. “This agreement will help close that gap substantially and deliver on President Trump’s promise to end the HIV epidemic in America.”
Gilead is providing the CDC with up to 2.4 million bottles of Truvada every year until at least 2025, which will mean 200,000 more people will have access to the medication. The company is also working toward the approval of a similar drug called Descovy and may extend donations until 2030. The government will take on the costs of distributing the drugs.
“We are proud to partner with CDC to dramatically expand access to medication that can help prevent new HIV infections,” Gregg Alton, chief patent officer of Gilead Sciences, said in a statement. “We believe today’s donation, combined with efforts to address the root causes of the epidemic, such as racism, violence against women, stigma, homophobia, and transphobia, can play an important role in ending the HIV epidemic in the United States, particularly in parts of the country with the highest burden of disease.”
Carl Schmid, deputy executive director of the AIDS Institute who is co-chair of the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, said that the donation would free up federal spending that would otherwise have been spent on getting the medication to the uninsured. Congress is still working on the budget, but on Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee approved nearly $500 million in spending for HIV treatment and prevention.