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Patients Suffered Serious Side Effects That Could Have Been Prevented

Truvada is a doctor-preferred solution for an HIV prevention method known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PReP). Taken orally every day, the medication is highly effective in preventing HIV transmission. Less often, it is used to prevent transmission of hepatitis B. Though HIV-positive patients should not use the drug on its own, it can be used for treatment in conjunction with other medications.

Truvada Risks Weren’t Disclosed Properly

Though HIV treatment and PReP have improved health outcomes and quality of life for people with or at risk of contracting HIV, Gilead, the maker of Truvada, may have made the drug sound like a much better proposition than it was. Truvada does have the potential to save lives, but it can also harm patients’ kidneys and bone density. Both as a prevention method and an HIV treatment, the drug is usually taken for long periods of time. This means the toxic molecules accumulate in patients’ bodies, and the injuries worsen the longer the drug is used.

Many Patients Experienced Kidney Injury Or Failure

Though Gilead knew Truvada could damage users’ kidneys, it minimized harms and failed to warn patients of this risk. Longitudinal studies of populations with prescriptions for the drug found that, even when scientists controlled for other potential causes, long-term use could result in kidney damageFor each year Truvada was used, patients experienced:

  • 34% increase in risk for kidney damage
  • 33% increase in risk of developing chronic kidney disease
  • 11% increase in risk of rapidly declining kidney function

Even after they stopped using Truvada, the participants’ risks of kidney problems didn’t decrease for at least a year. No longer-term data exists for previous Truvada users. For those who had the misfortune of developing chronic conditions such as Fanconi syndrome or kidney disease, the damage can’t be taken back.

Truvada Causes Decreases In Bone Density

Long-term use of Truvada can cause patients to experience decreased bone density. Though this, too, was discovered in preliminary trials, many patients did not know the scope of the danger when choosing to take the drug. Gilead was made to update its warnings on this point in 2012—8 years after the drug was initially improved by the FDA. Though bone density loss may be easier to counteract than kidney damage both during and after use, a study found that long-term Truvada users were 12% more likely to break a bone for each year they used the medication.

Gilead Refused To Release A Safer Alternative To Truvada

At the same time they were developing Truvada (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, or TDF), Gilead was testing a very similar compound: tenofovir alafenamide fumarate, or TAF. TAF can provide the same antiretroviral benefits at a much lower dosage than TDF. This means it’s also less toxic and harmful to the people taking it. Gilead conducted successful tests of this drug in 2005. However, they did not file for a TAF patent until 2015, when their TDF patent was about to run out. By suddenly showing up with a safer alternative, they effectively closed off the market to competitors who might have iterated on TDF. Gilead should have prioritized finding ways to protect Truvada users from the dangerous side effects, and the evidence shows they could have patented a safer replacement drug at least 10 years before they did. By refusing to release TAF to the market, they gave patients seeking HIV treatment or PReP no choice but to use a dangerous medication.

We Want To Hold Gilead Accountable

Failing to properly warn patients about side effects is bad enough, but Gilead took things one step further, choosing to withhold a safer drug so they could sustain their profit levels. Anyone who contracted kidney or bone damage from their use of Truvada deserves a day in court. Our experienced team of dangerous medication lawyers is here to help you pursue justice.

Get in touch now, either online or by calling (217) 516-3451, if you think you may have a case against Gilead and Truvada.