Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD) earned a big victory against a lawsuit filed by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), which had claimed that the drug maker engaged in unfair competition. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted Gilead’s motion to dismiss the case. But the AHF, which spends millions of dollars a year on Gilead meds, found sufficient encouragement in the judge’s ruling when he noted that the case was ripe for reconsideration by higher courts. AHF has already indicated that it will appeal the decision all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.
The lawsuit involves Gilead’s new HIV meds that contain enofovir alafenamide fumarate, or TAF, which is more potent and causes fewer side effect than a dose of last gen product Viread, a TDF.
AHF claims that Gilead knew of the safety benefits of the new drugs back in 2001, but the company delayed testing on humans until 2011, a calculated anti-competitive manner to keep the price of Viread high and prevent generics makers from snapping up market share. AHF notes that Gilead purposely waited until shortly before its older TDF-based product lost patent protection. Moreover, AHF maintains that since TAF is just a modification of TDF, and that Gilead does not deserve patent protection.
In Judge William Alsup’s ruling, he notes that while Gilead might have delayed introducing the meds to the market, AHF has been unable to explain how the delay constituted unfair competition. He further pointed out that Gilead’s patent gives it a monopoly over both TDF and TAF and it has no obligation to bring an improved product on an earlier date.
The ruling comes at a time when Gilead is raising the price on its older TDF-based drug, apparently to try and steer patients to newer meds before its patent expires.