SOURCE: AIDS Healthcare Foundation

AIDS Healthcare Foundation

April 20, 2011 06:00 ET

Gilead "Do the Right Thing" AIDS Postcards & Newspaper "Sticky Notes" Ads Hit Hometown

AIDS Healthcare Foundation Campaign Targets Neighborhood of Gilead Headquarters, Seeks to Educate Gilead Employees & General Public About High Price of Gilead's AIDS Drugs for Cash-Strapped State AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) With Innovative Use of Newspaper "Sticky Notes" Ads

Prices for Company's Key AIDS Drugs, Such as Atripla -- Priced at $10,000 per Patient per Year for ADAP -- Limit Access to Lifesaving Drugs for Neediest Americans

SACRAMENTO, CA--(Marketwire - Apr 20, 2011) - Today, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) launched a campaign to educate employees and neighbors of Gilead Sciences, Inc. over the high price of its key AIDS drugs, such as Atripla, which are putting a strain on state cash-strapped AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs). ADAP is the payer of last resort for low-income Americans who cannot afford their HIV medicines. The campaign includes postcards sent to residents of neighborhoods surrounding the company's headquarters in Foster City, California -- including Foster City, Hillsborough, Atherton, Redwood City and El Granada in San Mateo County, and Oakland in Alameda County. The postcards feature the image of a red AIDS ribbon, along with the message: "Gilead, Do the Right Thing!" and refers the public to for more information and to send an e-letter expressing concern to Gilead CEO John C. Martin.

In addition, AHF has employed an innovative use of newspaper front-page "sticky notes." These 3" x 3" removable stickers are usually pasted over the masthead of a newspaper and are most often utilized as somewhat intrusive sales and marketing tactic to sell products that face stiff competition such as insurance, auto sales and lap-band surgery. To AHF's knowledge, this is the first time this marketing tactic is being employed to further an advocacy-related goal, not sell a product or service. AHF's "sticky notes" feature the same image as the postcards, the message "Gilead, Do the Right Thing!" and the website: These ads will target similar neighborhoods to the postcards and are scheduled to appear on the front pages of the San Mateo County Times and the San Jose Mercury News beginning on April 20th and on the San Francisco Chronicle beginning on May 9th.

"AHF's 'Do the Right Thing' campaign targeting Gilead is designed to bring the message about the company's unreasonably high prices for Atripla and other AIDS drugs directly to company employees and neighbors," said Michael Weinstein, AHF President. "Employees and the public should know about the company's pricing and policies on the company's AIDS drugs and the negative impact those prices are having on access. Gilead has generated billions in revenue from ADAP and now it's time for them to step up. Thousands of lives are depending on it."

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. Currently, there are 7,700 individuals on waiting lists to receive lifesaving AIDS medications in eleven states. Hundreds of patients in need are being added to the waiting list each week. In addition, 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.

HIV/AIDS medications manufactured by Gilead represent the largest share of drugs paid for by ADAP.

In recent weeks, both California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer and California State Controller John Chiang have written letters urging Gilead to reduce the price of their HIV/AIDS medications for California's AIDS Drug Assistance Program. In addition to their roles as State officials, Lockyer and Chiang are also Board Members for CalSTRS and CalPERS, the two largest public pension funds, both of which are substantial shareholders in Gilead.

In his letter to Gilead, Treasurer Lockyer stated: "Year in and year out, the increasing cost of AIDS drugs has limited the number of people who can be served using existing ADAP funds. For example, California's ADAP program (the largest in the nation) has experienced a 257% increase in AIDS drug spending since 2000, more than three times the rate of client growth over this same period... These increases not only place an undue burden on people seeking treatment, but place an unsustainable burden on states. California cannot afford to increase the budget for ADAP indefinitely in order to pay for higher drug prices."

AIDS Healthcare Foundation has previously reached out to Gilead urging the company to lower ADAP prices. In a letter to the company's CEO John C. Martin, dated February 2, 2011, Mr. Weinstein urged a 20% price cut: "A 20% price reduction (or rebate in applicable states) will enable ADAPs to provide lifesaving treatment to all those who need it. Moreover, this discount will have negligible impact on your company's revenue from the ADAP program. ADAP budgets for purchasing drugs are fixed -- as evidenced by the waiting lists -- which means that drug companies will receive all of the money available to the program regardless of pricing. The only question is, given the cost of drugs, how many people ADAPs will be able to serve with this set pot of funds."

Mr. Martin's response letter referred to previous efforts Gilead has made through its own Patient Assistance Program, saying: "For patients who meet eligibility criteria for this program, Gilead will pay up to $200 per month ($2,400/year) toward out-of-pocket expenses for our HIV medications starting at $0."

Added Weinstein: "'Patient Assistance Programs' are an inadequate substitute for a functional ADAP program. We hope that Gilead will hear the important message that AHF is sending on behalf of Americans living with HIV/AIDS and will do the right thing for patients in need by lowering prices immediately."

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and services to more than 156,000 individuals in 26 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean the Asia/Pacific region and Eastern Europe.

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