AIDS 2014: Activists stage protest against Gilead VP
Activists at the 20th international AIDS conference launched a protest against pharmaceutical giant Gilead, producers of a new Hepatitis C drug, Sovaldi.
The activists who are protesting against the exorbitant cost of Sovaldi (sofosbuvir), a Hepatitis C treatment, interrupted a speech by Gilead Executive Vice President of Corporate and Medical Affairs, Greg Alton.
With cries of “Pills Cost Pennies, Greed Costs Lives, Pharma Greed Kills and Shame, Shame, Shame", the treatment advocates delivered Alton with a liver on a silver platter, as they waved their banners which read 'Gilead Kills' and 'Wanted Crimes Against Access'.
Currently there are 150 million people worldwide living with chronic HCV - and Hepatitis C kills approximately 500,000 people a year.
A treatment course of Sovaldi can cure HCV but the cost in the US ranges from $84,000 to $168,000. Sovaldi must also be used in conjunction with other Hepatitis drugs, making it even more expensive. In low and middle-income countries the treatment is not even available at all.
Research conducted by the University of Liverpool has found if the drugs were mass produced, a generic version would cost just a few hundred dollars for a course of treatment.
But Gilead continues to suggest the drug needs to be priced this high in order for them to recoup R&D costs. Activists argue Gilead has already garnered at least $3 billion in sales of Sovaldi and the $1000 a day price tag in the US is way too high. Health economists suggest a generic version of the drug could be made for less than a $1 a day.
Activists continued their protest by marching on the Gilead booth in the exhibition hall at the AIDS 2014 conference – but the booth was unattended when they arrived.
GALLERY: See our photos from the protest below. To view the full gallery, click here