The latest attempt to spotlight Gilead Sciences and its business practices shifted on Thursday to Congress, where a sometimes contentious hearing was held to explore the cost of an HIV prevention pill the company sells and the role the federal government played in discovering the pricey medicine.
The three-hour session was punctuated by a mix of bipartisan sparring that, at times, addressed the larger issue of patients versus profits as much as the Gilead pill, which is called Truvada and has been the focus of intense controversy in recent weeks. The hearing was pushed by AIDS activists, who also filed a lawsuit this week accusing Gilead of anti-competitive behavior to profit off its HIV pill.
The activists have increasingly criticized the company for pricing they claim has caused access issues and have implored the federal government to pursue royalties on a key patent that was filed by researchers whose work was funded, in part, with taxpayer dollars. The activists argue that the government could use any royalties toward combating the virus.