California Plaintiffs Seek Coordinated Docket for Gilead HIV Drug Lawsuits

Published on June 21, 2019 by Laurie Villanueva

Plaintiffs who experienced serious side effects allegedly caused by Truvada and other TDF HIV anti-viral drugs marketed by Gilead Sciences, Inc. have asked the Judicial Counsel for the State of California to consolidated their claims in Santa Clara County Superior Court.

Gilead HIV Drug Lawsuits Share Common Legal Questions

According to the May 2oth petition, there are currently 16 Gilead HIV drug lawsuits pending in state courts throughout California. All of these plaintiffs allegedly blame Gilead’s TDF-based HIV medications, including Viread, Truvada, Atripla, Complera, and Stribild, for various bone or kidney injuries. They also accuse the pharmaceutical company of intentionally delaying development of a safer alternative (TAF) in order to optimize the profits derived from its TDF franchise.

The petition asserts that the pending claims share nearly identical questions of fact and law, including:

  • Whether Gilead had a duty to continue developing TAF-based medications in lieu of or alongside its TDF HIV anti-viral drugs.
  • Whether Gilead knew or should have known of the TDF-based medications’ dangerous risks when they were launched.
  • Whether Gilead acted negligently in bringing less-safe TDF drugs to market while knowing of TAF’s superior safety profile.
  • Whether Gilead promoted TDF HIV anti-viral drugs by falsely advertising, warranting, and representing the medications as the safest, most effective tenofovir-based treatments for HIV-1.

2 Gilead HIV Drug Lawsuits Pending in Santa Clara County

The petition predicts that hundreds of similar Gilead HIV drugs lawsuits will likely be filed in California courts in the near future. It goes on to argue that the creation of a coordinated docket will serve the convenience of the parties by eliminating redundant discovery and motion practice, which would likely occur if the cases proceed separately.

Two of the 16 Gilead HIV drug lawsuits are pending in Santa Clara County, one of which involves more than 100 plaintiffs.  The jurisdiction is close to Gilead’s headquarters, as well as the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, where similar cases filed on the federal level were recently centralized for coordinated pretrial proceedings.

Finally, the petition asserts that Santa Clara County Superior Court has significant experience managing large, complex, multi-plaintiff litigations, “and is highly qualified, with the administrative structure in place, to bring this case to an efficient and timely resolution.”

Gilead HIV Drug Allegations

With sales that exceed $11 billion annually, Gilead’s TDF and TAF franchises currently dominate the market for HIV treatments.

The company won U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for Viread, the first TDF medication, in October 2011. By 2012, the agency had also approved Truvada, Atripla, Complera, and Stribild. Gilead’s TDF patents will expire in 2021, at which point the company will begin to face lower-cost generic competition.

Genvoya, the first TAF-based HIV medication, was launched by Gilead in 2015. Odefsey and Descovy were brought to market the following year. The company’s patents for TAF will not expire until 2032.

According to a growing number of Gilead HIV drug lawsuits, Gilead suspended development of TAF in 2004, even though it had proven safer than TDF. While the company insisted the medications were too similar to justify continuing work on TAF, plaintiffs claim that the drug maker was actually motivated by a desire to protect the considerable profits from its TDF franchise.

Since launching Genvoya, Gilead has aggressively hyped TAF’s superior safety profile in an effort to convince doctors to switch patients to the new medications before its TDF patents expire. Plaintiffs claim that this “cynical” campaign relied upon “the very benefits that Gilead could have and should have incorporated into its prior product designs but withheld from doctors and patients for over a decade.”

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