At least 7,415 Americans are sitting on HIV/AIDS drugs waiting lists — and activists say some of them are dying in the queue.
Yesterday, AIDS advocates held an “Occupy Gilead” event to protest the multinational drug company’s pricing of its HIV/AIDS medications. They staged a mock funeral in memory of those who have died of AIDS while on AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) waitlists.
The protest organizers, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), said:
In the spirit of the “Occupy” movement, [we] hope to call attention to the severe AIDS drug crisis facing the nation’s ADAPs – a network of federal and state funded programs that provide life-saving HIV treatments to low income, uninsured, and underinsured individuals living with HIV/AIDS nationwide – as well as to the fact that Gilead Sciences’ executives are a part of the “1 percent.” [Our] goal is to raise public awareness and educate community members – including Gilead employees – regarding the steep prices that government programs are paying for Gilead’s blockbuster HIV/AIDS drug, Atripla, currently $10,000 per patient, per year for ADAP.
As of November 17, there are 6,595 people on waiting lists in twelve states, according to ADAP Watch, published regularly by the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), plus 445 people who have been dropped and 281 people unable to enroll because of lowered eligibility. These are under-estimates.
With state budgets stretched thin and increasing numbers of unemployed workers without health insurance, many states have been forced to cap enrollment in their AIDS Drug Assistance Programs. Hundreds of patients in need are being added to the waiting list each week. Thousands more Americans living with HIV/AIDS have been dropped from the program or made ineligible to receive medications through ADAP due to stricter eligibility requirements.
ADAPs serve about one third of people on AIDS treatment in America, around 165,000 people.
Dale Gluth, AHF’s Associate Regional Director, Bay Area, said:
The nation’s network of AIDS Drug Assistance Programs face desperate circumstances due to the high prices of drugs like Gilead’s Atripla. AHF is willing to work in partnership with Gilead toward solutions for ADAP and to create and foster dialogue with the community. However, as long as companies like Gilead continue to pursue pricing policies that conflict with the greater good, as well as the health and well-being of the public, we will not stop asking for change.
The AHF is calling on supporters to send an e-letter to Gilead CEO John Martin by visiting www.2gilead.org.
Occupy Gilead Protest & Funeral Procession photo AIDS Healthcare Foundation