Gilead HIV Medication Privacy Breach Class Action Lawsuit
This lawsuit involves a privacy breach in which California pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences, Inc. violated the privacy rights of many of its customers by exposing their highly private and confidential information regarding prescriptions for HIV medication.
On May 21, 2020, Berger Montague, along with the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania and Langer Grogan & Diver P.C., based in Philadelphia, filed a class action lawsuit against Gilead in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. A copy of the Complaint is available here.
The lawsuit alleges that Gilead illegally compromised the privacy rights of people taking its medications by recklessly mailing inappropriately marked envelopes after promising its customers confidentiality. It was not immediately known how many Gilead customers received the mailing.
Gilead is a biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Foster City, CA that develops and sells prescription drugs, including for the treatment and prevention of HIV. They include Truvada and Descovy, the only drugs available for the prescribed medication regimen known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (“PrEP”) for people who want to avoid contracting HIV. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are participants in Gilead’s Advancing Access Program, a patient-assistance program offering discounts on the expensive PrEP drugs.
In signing up for the Advancing Access Program, Gilead customers were promised confidentiality and did not expect or agree to receive mail from Gilead that would link them to HIV. Stigma surrounding HIV can lead to discrimination in employment, housing, education, and health care, and even violence. Fear of that stigma is widely recognized as contributing to the AIDS epidemic by discouraging people from getting tested. To ensure that people feel safe to come forward to be tested and treated for HIV, many states have adopted laws that protect the confidentiality of HIV-related information and provide for statutory damages. This lawsuit demands that Gilead reform its mailing procedures and pay monetary damages to the plaintiffs and class members.
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