Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD) has announced a plan to donate drugs that reduce the risk of HIV transmission for up to 11 years. The initiative is expected to last until Dec. 31, 2025, with the possibility of continuing through the end of 2030. According to the drug maker, the plan is projected to cover about 200,000 people a year.
The plan is part of an agreement between Gilead and the Trump administration. President Donald Trump announced his “Ending the HIV Epidemic” plan during his most recent State of the Union Address. As part of that plan, he pledged to end the HIV epidemic in the United States by 2030. The Trump administration has agreed to cover costs associated with distributing the drugs.
The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS predicts that there are about 36.9 million people worldwide living with HIV or AIDS. About 21.7 million of those people are using antiretroviral medicines to suppress the infection. California-based Gilead is the leader in the $26 billion-a-year HIV medication market with its drug Truvada, also called PrEP.
Truvada is a pill that prevents transmission of the HIV virus to a partner. A landmark study showed that the popular HIV-fighting pill can also help healthy people avoid contracting the virus. The pill appears safe and effective for prevention, but it only works when taken daily.
The price of Truvada has been climbing steadily since it was first introduced in 2004. Today, it usually sells for $1,600 to $2,000 a month in the United States. According to reports, other countries can get it for as low as $70 a month. A generic version of the drug is projected to hit the market in 2021.