Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 37 / 14 September 2017

Letters to the Editor

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Gilead's drug pricing

Recent weeks have demonstrated the need to reserve one's moral outrage. A news story important to the LGBT community that I fear will become buried is Gilead Science's $11.9 billion takeover of Kite Pharma and its CAR-T therapy – a repeat of Gilead's 2011 $10 billion acquisition of Pharmasset, the developer of the Sovaldi cure for hepatitis C.

Foster City-based Gilead is a top donor to LGBT nonprofits for a reason: it is blood money paid to buy the silence of AIDS activists for Gilead's criminal hepatitis C pricing. Given that hep C is largely curable, Gilead ensures the continuation of the gay community's epidemic in order to preserve its market. Imagine if Alexander Fleming had charged syphilitics $92,000 for a course of penicillin. The purpose of drug patents is to encourage research and development, not anti-competitive pricing. This $11.9 billion takeover of Kite could have been put into drug research. Instead, Gilead buys out a company (whose leukemia therapy was developed by the University of California) and jacks up the price. Maybe we should just sell more stem cell bonds while we're at it.

Just as long as Gilead buys a seat at the next glitzy LGBT fundraiser – it's sexier to demand pounds of flesh from the likes of Martin Shkreli (who is at least being honest), and march on San Francisco City Hall as the best way to resist Donald Trump at all times, when (at least on drug pricing), there is some common ground.


Thomas Busse

San Francisco




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