4. Gilead Sciences
Gilead Sciences is already infamous, even for Big Pharma, for shameless price gouging.
In 2014, they purchased the hepatitis C drug Sovaldi and tripled the price to $84,000, putting the medication out of reach of the patients who needed it most. Gilead currently charges nearly $2,000 a month for the HIV prevention drug Truvada even though manufacturing it only costs them $6 per pill.
Given that history, it’s no surprise that Gilead sees the pandemic as yet another chance to rake in profits on the backs of patients. Remdesivir, an antiviral drug developed with public money from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is showing early promise as a COVID-19 treatment.
Gilead has a government-granted monopoly on remdesivir for the next 5 years, but even that wasn’t good enough for them. They applied for “orphan drug” status, which the Trump Administration promptly granted, even though the status is intended for drugs that treat rare diseases — the exact opposite of a pandemic! This gives them an additional 7 years of monopoly over the drug, plus a big tax credit.
Public Citizen, joined by 50 groups including Social Security Works and Lower Drug Prices Now, sent a letter on Wednesday to Gilead’s chief executive, Daniel O’Day, asking him to reverse course on approving the patent. The same day, faced with growing public outrage, Gilead ultimately withdrew its request for the special status. But they are still poised to make a killing off this pandemic.