What You Need to Know about Truvada Cases
Truvada is a drug created to both prevent and halt the spread of HIV. The drug, which is a combination of TDF (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate) and FTC (emtricitabine), prevents HIV cells from multiplying, which can prevent HIV from becoming AIDS and help keep at-risk individuals from contracting the disease.
Unfortunately, while Truvada and many drugs like it have been sufficient for their intended purpose, the drug also comes with several severe side effects.
Many believe the manufacturer, Gilead Sciences, hid these side effects from consumers to maximize profits. Some even claim that Gilead hid a safer alternative, TAF (tenofovir alafenamide), from consumers until its patent on TDF expired, risking the health and lives of many consumers in the process.
You’ll find everything you need to know about the various legal actions taken against Truvada and Gilead here, including your rights, what you can do if Truvada or a similar drug left you or a loved one battling dangerous side effects, and the true story of what happened with Gilead and Truvada.
What Is Truvada?
Truvada is a combination of the drugs TDF (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate) and FTC (emtricitabine).
This combination works both to halt the progression of HIV and to help prevent its spread between people. The FDA approved Truvada for treating HIV in 2004, and it was later approved for the treatment of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in 2012.
Truvada now seems to primarily be used for the treatment of prEP in individuals, though it is still available for the treatment of HIV-1 infections. The reason for this is most likely because safer options with fewer detrimental side effects are now available.
HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is a sexually-transmitted bloodborne virus that degrades the immune system over time. HIV attacks and destroys the body’s helper-T cells, taking them over and turning them into breeding grounds.
Eventually, the virus takes over the body’s entire immune system this way.
Because of the way HIV degrades the immune system, it’s not typically the cause of death for individuals that contract it. Instead, those with a weakened immune system because of HIV end up contracting other diseases that eventually lead to death.
AIDS, or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, describes the final stages of HIV when a person’s immune system is nearly destroyed. At this stage, people with AIDS/HIV are incredibly susceptible to infection and disease.
While there is still no cure for HIV or AIDS, Truvada and other similar drugs work to stop or slow the multiplication of HIV in the body.
If the infection is caught early enough and managed carefully, with the help of these medicines, people infected by the disease can still live long, fulfilling lives.
Health Risks of Truvada
Truvada has a long list of associated health risks, several of which users report being conveyed inaccurately to patients during initial prescriptions of the drug.
However, Truvada’s list of side effects now seems to be fixed.
The list of side effects currently contains the following:
- Worsening of your HBV (hepatitis B) infection. If you are using the medication to stop the spread of HBV, then suddenly stop taking it, your condition could rebound and become much worse.
- Kidney problems or kidney failure
- Immune system changes, mainly a stronger immune system
- Bone pain, bone softening, or fractures
- Lactic acidosis, or a buildup of lactic acid in the blood that can be fatal
- Liver problems, sometimes severe
The side effects reported between Truvada for PrEP and Truvada for HIV are slightly different.
On Truvada for PrEP’s website, it says that you should not take Truvada alone if you have the HIV-1 infection, as this can make the infection more difficult to treat over time.
Additionally, “changes to your immune system” are not reported under the Truvada for PrEP side effects. It’s also worth noting that the common side effects of the prescription types are different.
The typical (non-severe) side effects of Truvada for prEP are:
- Stomach pain
- Decreased weight
The common side effects reported for standard Truvada are entirely different, and are as follows:
- Sleeping problems
- Strange dreams
Does Truvada cause kidney damage?
Yes. Kidney problems are now listed under the side effects for both Truvada and Truvada for prEP. The medicine does have the ability to cause kidney damage.
However, these effects have not always been listed; during the initial stages of prescribing the drug, Truvada salesmen claimed that the compound was “non-toxic” and “extremely safe.”
Is Truvada safe to take?
Well, that answer is a bit harder to pin down. While Truvada is FDA-approved to treat HIV and PrEP, its side effects can be severe.
That being said, some patients may not see harmful side effects if they’re already advanced in years and don’t plan to be on Truvada long, for example.
For others, Truvada side effects long term may outweigh the potential hazards involved in contracting or living with HIV. Whether you consider Truvada safe to take or not is a very personal decision that you should discuss at length with your doctor.
Kidney Failure and Osteoporosis with Truvada
Kidney failure, or renal failure, is a substantial side effect of Truvada and other drugs that use TDF.
Truvada should not be prescribed to those with impaired kidney function at all, if possible. However, historically, the warning labels on Truvada have not fully explained this risk.
Now, thousands of people are dealing with the long-term effects of kidney failure and bone density loss because of this oversight.
The reason for these extreme health effects is because very little of the TDF drug gets absorbed into the body. Instead, much of it remains in the bloodstream and is eventually filtered out by the kidneys. This contributes to eventual kidney damage and failure.
TAF, on the other hand, is mostly absorbed by the body, so its negative health impacts are far less.
Kidney failure has its own set of negative symptoms. Mild kidney problems result in manageable symptoms, while kidney failure will eventually require dialysis or a transplant.
Some of these side effects include:
- Decreased appetite
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle cramps
Renal failure, in addition to the above symptoms, results in problems like:
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Bloody urine
- Back or side pain
- Heart arrhythmias
However, kidney failure is not the only severe health effect that people have been attacking Truvada over.
Many patients have also experienced bone issues ranging from loss of bone density to brittle and fracturing bones and osteoporosis. Bone problems also cause a significant impact on our way of like, just as kidney failure does.
The TDF Lawsuit
The TDF lawsuit, more specifically, involves the research that Gilead was doing towards improving their medication and developing new products.
According to TDF lawsuit claims, Gilead had already developed TAF before their patent for TDF expired, but they did not release the newer, safer medication alternative because they wanted to squeeze more profits out of Truvada first.
If Gilead had admitted that Truvada was unnecessarily dangerous and released TAF-based medications as a replacement right away, they would lose most or all of the profits that they stood to gain from their monopoly on TDF.
By downplaying the actual severity of the drug and waiting for the patent to expire before releasing TAF, the safer drug alternative, Gilead milked Truvada for every cent it could, regardless of the detrimental long-term effects on their customers.
At least, this is what TDF lawsuits claim happened. If this exploitation did occur, or if a court of law decides that it did occur, those affected by Truvada may be able to get compensation for their troubles.
What is TDF?
TDF, or tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, is one of the main ingredients in Truvada, and while it was a breakthrough in its time, it’s now thought to be an unnecessarily toxic option for treating HIV infections.
While Truvada is still on the market as a treatment option, other medicines using TAF or other less-harmful active ingredients tend to be preferable.
The reason for the less-toxic nature of TAF lies in its dosage requirements. TAF is purportedly thousands of times more effective against HIV than TDF.
As such, patients would need to take far less over a lifetime of fighting off the disease, resulting in fewer complications.
Upon researching and finding out about the safer treatment option, Gilead would have known that releasing it would eat into their profits for Truvada, which they had spent so much work marketing already.
In reality, Gilead was performing tests to find new molecules to fight HIV even while it was manufacturing Truvada. However, for whatever reason, the company purportedly decided to stop funding these experiments in 2004 to “look at other types of HIV medicine.” This decision to stop research came and went, even though the company pursued patents for the new molecule in the meantime
Why would a company that found a less-toxic alternative to one of their medications decide to stop funding and researching it suddenly?
Gilead even went as far as running several small clinical trials for the drug, which came to be known as Genvoya. However, the drug didn’t come on the market until their patent on Truvada ran out several years later, and they didn’t bother to publish the results of their clinical studies until that time, either.
These accusations show a callous disregard for Gilead’s patients, and even for the doctors prescribing the drug. When a doctor is talking to a patient about trying a new treatment option, it’s the doctor’s responsibility to go over all known health risks and potential complications with the patient before prescribing it.
However, if doctors themselves aren’t aware of the severity of these side effects beforehand, how can they be expected to do that?
Now, Gilead is urging doctors to switch their patients to Genvoya and similar drugs because of its lower risk of serious complications. This urging came after Gilead managed to land its patents for the new drug, of course.
HIV Drug Lawsuit and Truvada Lawsuit Claims
The HIV drug lawsuits and Truvada lawsuit claims fired at Gilead mostly revolve around two things:
- covering up long-term health effects
- refusing to release a safer alternative that the company had already researched
Truvada isn’t the only one at fault, either; similar drugs in the same class have also been called out as a part of these HIV drug lawsuits.
A few of the other antivirals that are responsible for some of the same transgressions as Truvada include:
- AccessPak for HIV
- Symfi Lo
If you believe you’re a victim of wrongful health or monetary damage as a result of taking these or other medications, you should seek the help of a lawyer as soon as possible.
The longer you wait to make your claim, the less likely it will be to be successful.
Those involved in these lawsuits maintain that Gilead both put the health of their customers in jeopardy and held out on a known, safer alternative all to make more money. After all, if Gilead had not downplayed the side effects caused by their medicine, fewer people would have used it, and their profits would have fallen.
Because Gilead Sciences retained a patent of TDF, one of the main ingredients in Truvada, for several years, Truvada became one of the first and most popular treatments for HIV.
However, that was only the case until their monopoly on TDF expired. Truvada lawsuit claims propose that Gilead waited for their patent to expire to divulge the seriousness of these side effects and to make TAF known.
As a result of these actions, many patients have experienced more severe side effects than they expected from the drug. The HIV drug lawsuits claim that Gilead knew of the real seriousness of these side effects and worked to hide them, all in the name of money. Truvada lawsuit claims have also been made that say Gilead did not give doctors or patients enough warning about the importance of monitoring these severe side effects.
If you experienced severe side effects as a result of taking Truvada that weren’t covered by your doctor, contact our Truvada attorneys right away to get the recompense you deserve.
Ethics of Gilead Sciences, Inc.
Those launching the various lawsuits at Gilead have called both their moral obligations and their ethics into question. If the accusations made against them are correct, the company showed a callous disregard for the health of its patients on multiple occasions: first, when not telling them about the severe side effects, and second when they decided to keep their discovery of a less-hazardous option a secret.
The implications of these claims are particularly worrying.
If Gilead did, indeed, keep its findings from Truvada’s victims, this means that their desire for money and profit ended up negatively impacting the lives of thousands of people. Truvada, at one point, was prescribed for more than 80% of HIV cases.
That’s a lot of customers misled and a lot of profits made from that lie.
Because of Gilead’s success in marketing and selling Truvada (and its successor, Genvoya), the company has risen to become one of the top pharmaceutical companies in the world. One year of treatment for HIV on Genvoya or Truvada can cost upwards of $30,000. With these kinds of numbers coming into play, it makes sense that Gilead would not want to lose a single patient on one of these medications.
Why did Gilead not release Genvoya sooner?
By moving its current customers to the newer, safer drug, they would have retained their patients while also protecting their long-term health. By squeezing every last penny out of Truvada before releasing Genvoya instead, Gilead was able to maximize its profits instead of retiring Truvada early.
This choice, the accusers argue, was a calculated move aimed at keeping prices high and money in Gilead’s pocket. While this is still just a claim, these accusations do seem to line up with Gilead’s timeline of releasing the drugs and patent expirations.
Even more disturbing was Gilead’s response to these accusations: that they “had no duty to develop, test, seek approval of, or launch its new product on any particular timetable.”
Truvada Attorneys Who Can Help You
Truvada lawsuit settlements are in the works to get the victims of Gilead’s choices repayment for what they’ve gone through.
Neither Gilead nor any other drug manufacturer has the right to exploit their customers for higher profits, and if you decide to stand up and defend this fact, our Truvada attorneys will be standing by to help you do it.
A reasonable attorney will be able to help you get the payment you need for expenses like:
- Related medical bills
- Treatment transportation costs
- Loss of income from being ill
- Emotional distress, pain, and suffering
Please, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us if you need help getting the restitution you deserve for Truvada use or other personal injury claims.