A group of HIV patients based in California filed two separate lawsuits on Wednesday against Bay Area drugmaker Gilead Sciences for promoting a drug they say caused permanent kidney and bone damage. The personal injury and class action suits, filed in a Los Angeles district court, accuse the company of shelving a safer version of the drug in order to maximize profits and extend the sales of its existing drug tenofovir disoproxil fumarate.
Both complaints say the company knew as far back as 2001 that TDF was highly toxic but failed to warn patients of the dangerous side effects. The drug was originally sold under the brand name Viread.
"A company I trusted with my life took advantage of that trust by misrepresenting the side effects of TDF, calling it the ‘Miracle Drug’ and using other deceptive marketing strategies," said Michael Lujano, from Los Angeles, one of two plaintiffs in the personal injury suit. "Gilead shelved a far safer drug called tenofovir alafenamide fumarate simply to increase its long-term profits."
Another plaintiff in the class action suit, Ricardo Wohler, says he has lost 17 teeth in just three years due to the drug. The 52 year-old real estate agent from Marin took TDF for 12 years and was never made aware of its potential side effects, he said.
"I learned how to smile without opening my mouth, how to speak without showing my teeth. This had an entire impact on my life, my self security, my self esteem, but also on my finances."