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Truvada Lawsuits

Truvada (emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate) lawsuits claim that the drug causes kidney problems and bone loss. Truvada lawsuits also claim that Gilead withheld a safer alternative, tenofovir alafenamide, in order to maximize profits from Truvada and other drugs containing TDF.

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Last Modified: April 26, 2024
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Latest Truvada Lawsuit Updates

As of July 2024, plaintiffs continue to file Truvada lawsuits against Gilead. This litigation also includes Viread, Atripla, Complera and Stribild lawsuits because all these drugs contain tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF), an ingredient that plaintiffs argue is toxic to the bones and kidneys.

So far, there haven’t been any court-approved settlements or jury verdicts. The first bellwether test trials are scheduled in California state and federal courts, according to Gilead’s 2022 annual report. Many of the cases are pending in California, but the company faces lawsuits that involve thousands of plaintiffs in multiple states.

  • January 2024: Federal consolidated Truvada HIV lawsuits in California are still pending. The federal judge in California overseeing consolidated federal cases has dismissed some claims but preserved others in the Gilead case. The first federal trial is scheduled for April 2024.
  • November 2023: In a price-fixing class action, Gilead reached a $246.75 million preliminary settlement with plaintiffs claiming that the company conspired with a drug manufacturer to delay the release of generic versions of their HIV drugs. The settlement addresses claims related to price-fixing, and a final approval hearing is expected in January 2024.
  • September 2023: A California appeals court heard arguments in state-consolidated lawsuits on Gilead’s appeal of the denial of a motion for summary judgment. The motion claimed the company fraudulently or negligently withheld a safer HIV drug for almost a decade to maximize its profits.
  • May 2023: The first of two summary jury trials has begun. These summary trials are nonbinding and both sides present their cases in a private, unrecorded setting.
  • May 2023: A group of 19 plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against Gilead in the Northern District of California alleging Gilead failed to warn about tenofovir disoproxil fumarate’s toxicity to the bones and kidneys.
  • April 2023: Plaintiffs urged Judge Tigar to reject Gilead’s request to dismiss approximately 650 plaintiffs who supposedly have not provided information to back their claims.
  • March 2023: U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar of the Northern District of California tossed out eight of Gilead’s experts after he concluded their opinions were the same and probably ghostwritten by Gilead’s lawyers. Both sides continue to file motions to exclude expert witnesses.
  • December 2022: Gilead reported the company faced lawsuits involving more than 26,000 plaintiffs in California, Delaware, Florida, Missouri and New York.
“The lawsuits, which are pending in state or federal court in California, Delaware, Florida, Missouri and New York, involve more than 26,000 plaintiffs. Plaintiffs in these cases seek damages and other relief on various grounds for alleged personal injury and economic loss.”

The drug maker sought to have the California state case dismissed. Then, in February 2019, the Superior Court of California in Los Angeles allowed plaintiffs’ claims to move forward.

The first bellwether in California state court was supposed to take place in October 2022 but has since been stayed while the California First District Court of Appeal decides if the cases have merit. The first California federal court bellwether will begin in January 2024.

Injuries Named in Truvada Lawsuits

Truvada lawsuits claim that Gilead knew or should have known that Truvada and its active ingredient TDF were “highly toxic in the doses prescribed and risked permanent and possibly fatal damage to the kidneys and bones.”

However, instead of conducting further studies and informing the public, the drug maker ignored and misrepresented the risks, according to the combined lawsuit of Michael Lujano and Jonathan C. Gary. Gilead hid the risks from doctors and patients so it could “continue to raise its market share with TDF.”

Over the years, several studies have linked TDF to side effects that include kidney and bone problems.

Kidney Problems

The first documented instance of kidney toxicity in relation to TDF occurred in the United States the same year the drug hit the market in 2001, according to Willem D.F. Venter and the coauthors of a 2018 study in Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine. The patient suffered acute kidney injury, nephrogenic diabetes insipidus and Fanconi syndrome.

“Since then, many studies have described the nephrotoxic potential of the drug,” the authors wrote.

Kidney problems claimed in Truvada lawsuits may include:
  • Acute Kidney Injury or Acute Renal Failure
  • Chronic Kidney Disease or declining kidney function
  • Fanconi’s syndrome — a disorder where certain substances normally absorbed into the blood are excreted in urine instead
  • Kidney tubular dysfunction

Bone Density Loss

A 2018 study by Grace A. McComsey and colleagues published in AIDS stated, “Loss of [bone mineral density] in patients with HIV is associated with many contributing factors including antiretroviral therapy (ART), particularly regimens including tenofovir disoproxil fumarate.”

Researchers found switching to a combination of two other antiretroviral drugs, dolutegravir and rilpivirine, continued to suppress the virus while improving bone mineral density.

Bone injuries claimed in Truvada lawsuits may include:
  • Osteopenia
  • Osteoporosis
  • Bone fractures
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People Who Filed Truvada Lawsuits

People filed the first individual Truvada injury lawsuits in California in May 2018, and others followed. Like the class action, the common assertion in these claims is that Gilead failed to warn about the drug’s side effects and purposely withheld the safer drug tenofovir alafenamide (TAF), now marketed as Descovy, from the market in order to make more money.

Gilead’s sales reps and CEO claimed TDF was “a ‘miracle drug,’ had ‘no toxicities,’ was ‘benign,’ and ‘extremely safe’,” according to lawsuits. In fact, as early as 1997, studies already showed it had significant bone and kidney toxicity.

Michael Lujano and Jonathan C. Gary

Michael Lujano and Jonathan C. Gary took Truvada and Atripla for several years. In May 2018, they filed their lawsuit in California state court.

Lujano took Truvada from 2004 to 2009. Then, he took Atripla from 2009 to 2015. At the age of 35, doctors diagnosed him with osteopenia and osteoporosis of the spine, neck and hip.

Gary took Truvada from 2001 until 2011. Doctors diagnosed him with Fanconi syndrome and osteopenia and osteoporosis.

Gilead tried to have the case dismissed, but in Feb 2019, Judge Carolyn B. Kuhl allowed the claims to continue on all actions except strict liability. The case will proceed on negligence and breach of warranty claims.

“Gilead has shown a disregard for its patients’ health in order to reap outsized profits from its TDF medications.”

“Gilead has shown a disregard for its patients’ health in order to reap outsized profits from its TDF medications. I am happy the judge has allowed our case against Gilead to proceed,” Plaintiff Michael Lujano said in an AP statement.

Christopher Pierot

Christopher Pierot filed his case July 2018 in Louisiana federal court. He took Truvada to manage his HIV from 2008 to 2009.

Pierot was 26 when he started taking Truvada. By age thirty, he suffered bone necrosis and bone loss so severe that he needed to have both hips replaced. He suffered a great deal of pain after each surgery.

Pierot’s lawsuit claimed Gilead’s studies showed levels of TAF in target cells were about 10-fold and 30-fold greater than with TDF. It was also more efficient and barely detectable after the body used it. But TDF remained in blood plasma, a marker that it could be toxic to non-target cells.

Despite this knowledge, Gilead continued to sell the less effective, more toxic TDF and withhold TAF from patients.

Vanessa L. Naisha

Vanessa L. Naisha filed a Truvada lawsuit against Gilead in Delaware on July 11, 2019. Doctors diagnosed Naisha with HIV in 1986, and she began taking Truvada as soon as the drug hit the market in 2004.

By 2009, Naisha experienced severe pain in her hips and loss of balance. In 2010, she had to use a wheelchair after her hips failed.

She had two hip replacement surgeries in 2011 and suffered complications during the second surgery. She had to go to the Intensive Care Unit for a blood transfusion and did not regain consciousness until hospital staff ran electricity through her body seven times.

Doctors said her bone mineral density was osteopenic. It wasn’t until 2018 that she discovered Truvada might be to blame.

“[Naisha] put her trust in [the] Defendant with hopes of getting treatment for HIV. She was oblivious to the fact that all these years she was ingesting poison,” the complaint said.

AIDS Health Foundation Files Truvada Class Action Lawsuit

AIDS Health Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, helped file the class action lawsuit on behalf of Devin Martinez, Ricardo Wohler and others who purchased Truvada and other TDF drugs in May 2018.

This California action is separate from the individual injury lawsuits filed by people who claim kidney or bone injuries from TDF, but it deals with similar issues.

According to the complaint, Gilead misrepresented TDF’s safety profile as early as 2001. The FDA even reprimanded Gilead in 2002 and 2003 for claiming the drug had no toxicities and would not cause bone or kidney damage, but the company continued to downplay the risks.

Allegations against Gilead in the Truvada class action lawsuit include:

  • Failing to disclose that TDF had significant risk for toxicity and bone and kidney damage
  • Failed to warn of the kidney and bone risks in all patients, not just those with preexisting kidney and bone problems
  • Gilead misrepresented the risks and benefits of its TDF drugs to sell them

Gilead’s ‘Bald-Faced Greed and Disregard for Patient Safety’

Before the class action, AHF had already sued Gilead in April 2016. The foundation accused the company of manipulating the patent system by withholding TAF from patients.

Media coverage on the topic has “exposed Gilead’s bald-faced greed and disregard for patient safety,” AHF said in a press release.

Gilead Scandal
In June 2016, AIDS Health Foundation drew attention to the TDF scandal by running ads with the headline: “Gilead Scandal: Gay men, we don’t care about your kidneys and bones, only the money.”

As early as 2002, Gilead was paying doctors to research TAF in patients around the country at the same time that it was making profits on TDF, the lawsuit alleges. The company quietly applied for patents on TAF but kept its research secret.

In response to the allegations, Gilead’s lawyers denied lawsuit claims and said the company “had no duty to develop, test, seek approval of, or launch its new product on any particular timetable,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

“The delay in conducting clinical trials deprived those suffering from HIV of TAF for more than a decade,” the class action lawsuit said. “It is possible that HIV patients suffered from 10 years of additional accumulated kidney and bone toxicity using TDF while TAF stayed on the shelf.”

Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.