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Judge Rules “Profit Over People” Lawsuit May Proceed Against Pharmaceutical Giant Gilead Sciences, Inc.
By Charlene Muhammad, Contributing Writer
Published March 1, 2019

Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump (Courtesy photo)

Gilead Sciences, Inc. is being sued over accusations of intentionally withholding a safer drug from hundreds of thousands of patients, instead using medications that cause permanent damage to kidneys and bones.

Superior Court Judge Carolyn Kuhl rejected Gilead’s request to dismiss most claims in a personal injury lawsuit brought by a group of California residents living with HIV.

According to HIV Litigation Attorneys, spearheading the effort to bring the drug manufacturer to justice, there is substantial evidence that Gilead withheld a safer alternative version of drugs to treat HIV for over a decade until its original patents on its other medication expired.

Lawsuits have already been filed in California, Washington, D.C. and Louisiana on behalf of patients who have been harmed by Gilead’s combination drug treatment.

More than 25,000 people with HIV have been diagnosed with serious side effects after taking TDF-based antiretroviral medication, including kidney disease and bone density loss, according to attorneys for the plaintiffs.  TDF stands for tenofovir disoproxyl fumurate.

Scientific studies have shown TDF drugs cause a 40 percent increase in the risk of bone fractures and nearly 6,000 bone breaks have been linked to TDF, according to HIV Litigation Attorneys Liza Brereton, Arti Bhimani, and Courtney Conner.

Courtney Connor (Courtesy photo)

“This ruling is a tremendous victory for HIV/AIDS patients in their quest for justice regarding the life-threatening physical harm that Gilead has caused and we thank Judge Kuhl and the court for allowing these cases to proceed,” said Arti Bhimani of HIV Litigation Attorneys, attorney for plaintiffs.

“Gilead’s perverse motive of outsized profits and increased market share is not in line with patient health and safety and we are grateful that patients will now get their days in court,” said Liza Brereton  of HIV Litigation Attorneys, attorney for plaintiffs.

“Gilead has shown a disregard for its patients’ health in order to reap outsized profits from its TDF medications. I am happy the judge has allowed our case against Gilead to proceed,” said Plaintiff Michael Lujano.

“By 2001, Gilead knew that its TDF drug could cause serious side effects.  In 2002, Gilead knew that TAF was far less toxic than TDF-based drugs.  But, Gilead did not publish this research or bring TAF to market at this time because TDF sales were booming,” indicated a notice on the HIV Litigation Attorneys’ website. They further indicated that Gilead earned over $18 billion in net profit in 2015.

In May 2018, the HIV Litigation Attorneys filed a personal injury action and the first class action lawsuit against Gilead Sciences on behalf of patients from Los Angeles, San Diego, and Marin County.

“One of our plaintiffs took tenofovir disoproxil fumarate from 2004-2015 before he was diagnosed with osteopenia and osteoporosis of the spine, neck, and hip at age 35. Another plaintiff took the drug from 2001-2011 and was diagnosed with Fanconi syndrome, a rare kidney disorder, as well as osteopenia and osteoporosis at age 59,” they stated.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has supported the effort to hold Gilead accountable and has helped fund the early lawsuits to hold them accountable, according to attorneys for the plaintiffs.

Arti Bhimani (Courtesy photo)

People may be eligible to file a lawsuit if they have experienced one or more of the following injuries after taking Truvada, Viread, Atripla, Complera, or Stribild:

Bone injuries:  Osteopenia, Osteoporosis, or bone fractures;

Kidney Injuries: Chronic kidney disease or declining kidney function, acute kidney injury or acute renal failure, Fanconi syndrome, or tubular dysfunction.

HIV/AIDS patients and anyone interested are invited to join the lawsuit by visiting www.hivlitigation.com or they may call HIV Litigation Attorneys at (323) 860-5230.

Personal injury claims are based on the grounds of strict liability—design defect and failure to warn, negligent design defect and failure to warn, breach of implied warranty, and breach of express warranty, the attorneys explained.

They went on, “Twice since 2001, the FDA has issued warning letters to Gilead Sciences over their law-violating marketing practices. Meanwhile, studies showed there were safer alternatives available that Gilead deliberately and maliciously suppressed from the market.”

Judge Kuhl’s February 13 ruling paves the way for Ben Crump, nationally renowned civil rights attorney, to move forward with a federal lawsuit against the pharmaceutical giant.

“I think this is huge!  You have multi-billion dollar company who the judge told had to have a jury of regular people hold them accountable, because these giant corporations feel that they are above the law in many regards,” stated Crump in a phone interview.

Liza Brereton (Courtesy photo)

He, along with co-counsel at the Hilliard Martinez Gonzales and Morgan & Morgan law firms, launched a federal lawsuit in November on behalf of those they say “have been unfairly affected by Gilead’s greedy ‘profits-over-people’ approach.

Any affected parties who wish to sign up for the federal lawsuit can visithttp://www.tdflawsuit.com/.

“We have to always make sure we’re trying to even the playing field for our people, because the highest percentage of people with HIV in America is Black people, and especially Black men, and then when you go to women, Black women are the highest percentage by far.  Our argument is that they had a safer drug that they could have put on the market, but they put profit over safety and people literally die because of greed,” said Crump.

Categories: Health | News
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