Louisiana HIV Patients file Federal Personal Injury Cases Against Gilead Over Key HIV Drug

NEW ORLEANS (July 27, 2018) Two Louisiana patients living with HIV filed personal injury lawsuits against Gilead Sciences Inc. seeking to hold the San Francisco Bay Area drug maker accountable for actions around its failure to rectify a known defect in tenofovir disoproxil fumarate’s (TDF’s) drug formulation. Plaintiffs allege their severe physical injuries, kidney damage and bone density loss were caused by Gilead’s TDF medications and that Gilead developed but withheld a safer alternative, tenofovir alafenamide (TAF), that could have prevented their injuries. Both plaintiffs allege Gilead failed to warn them of the damaging side effects of TDF and actively misrepresented TDF’s efficacy and risks.

Plaintiff Willie Hills, Jr. claims the medication caused him to develop chronic kidney disease. Plaintiff Christopher Pierot claims the medication caused severe bone density loss and necrosis in both hips, resulting in a double hip replacement when he was only 30 years old.

The two separate, but similar legal actions, prepared by Rutherford Law attorney Michelle M. Rutherford, Louisiana lawyer John Adcock, and in-house counsel for AHF, were filed in two United States District Courts, the Western and Middle Districts of Louisiana, (Case No. 3:18-cv-00718-SDD-EWD) on behalf of Mr. Willie Hills, Jr., in the Middle District, and (Case 3:18-cv-00975) on behalf of Mr. Christopher Pierot in the Western District of Louisiana. Both plaintiffs demand jury trials.  AHF is funding the litigation and will not receive any financial recovery from the lawsuit in excess of its actual costs.

The case follows earlier, similar cases filed in Superior Court of for the State of California County of Los Angeles [Case No. BC702302, Personal Injury Claims; and Case No. BC 705063, Class Action Status],  against Gilead over Tenofovir. Both sets of civil cases assert that Gilead’s zeal to maintain and maximize its corporate profits came at the expense of the health and wellbeing of its customers who were prescribed and taking TDF, which, according to the current pleadings, the company knew as far back as 2001:

“Gilead knew that TDF toxicity led to kidney and bone damage, even in patients without pre-existing kidney or bone issues. Gilead had a duty to share its exclusive knowledge of the risks and adequately warn of any known or scientifically knowable risks associated with the use of TDF. Instead, Gilead misrepresented the safety and benefits of TDF and failed to provide prescribing physicians and their patients, including Plaintiff and his doctors, with the information they needed to safely and reasonably prescribe and take Gilead’s drugs”.

“Gilead should be held responsible for not putting out a better alternative drug knowing all along they hand one on hand.  I do not understand the rationale behind their decision, but I will be feeling the effects of their decision for the rest of my life,” said plaintiff Willie Hills Jr.

“The fact that Gilead knowingly gave an inferior version of their product that they knew caused kidney damage and bone loss to patients in order to make more money and extend their patent is despicable,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AHF.

“These two actions in Louisiana, similar to the claims filed in California, seek justice for individuals who now suffer severe health issues after taking TDF based HIV drug regiments, which Gilead marketed and sold, when it knew that a safer alternative existed in TAF based regiments,” said Arti Bhimani, Attorney for Plaintiffs.

“I am honored to represent Messrs. Hills and Pierot in their efforts to obtain justice for being the collateral damage caused by Gilead’s strategy of continuously placing profits over patient health,” said Michelle Rutherford, Attorney for Plaintiffs.

The case(s) also assert that Gilead deliberately and maliciously suppressed from the market its alternate and newer formulation of the drug, TAF, in order to extend the patent life—and sales—of its existing medications that included TDF.  Gilead earned over $18 billion in net profit in 2015.

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