Gilead Sciences has accused a group of unauthorized drug suppliers and distributors of selling fake versions of its HIV meds, according to EndPoints News.
The company also said that those counterfeit HIV pills ended up in some drugstores, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday.
Gilead said the distributors have sold more than 85,000 bottles of its HIV medications, including Biktarvy (bictegravir/emtricitabine/tenofovir alafenamide) and Descovy (emtricitabine/tenofovir).
The suppliers sold the fake drugs with counterfeit documentation, with some tampered bottles containing an entirely different drug.
Gilead first learned about the fake meds in August 2020, when White Cross Pharmacy in California reported to the company that a patient returned a bottle of Biktarvy with foreign medication inside, according to a complaint filed in July. Since then, Gilded has received multiple complaints.
The company seized and confiscated thousands of counterfeit Gilead-labeled drugs at 17 locations in nine states.
Most bottles were found to be filled with a generic painkiller, or high-dose tablets of the antipsychotic Seroquel (quetiapine).
Lori Mayall, Gilead’s Associate General Counsel, said in a statement, “Patient safety is our first priority, and our actions were instrumental in removing counterfeit HIV medications from the US supply chain and protecting individuals who rely on our medications.”
In August, the company issued a public warning that fake versions of Biktarvy and Descovy had made their way into some US pharmacies. It added most bottles were tempered, having fake foil induction seals or labels, which contained the wrong drugs.
In February 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Biktarvy as a once-daily single-tablet regimen for the treatment of HIV in adults.
In October 2019, the FDA approved Descovy as PrEP for people who are HIV-negative and at-risk for sexually acquired HIV through anal sex.
Gilead said, “Authentic Biktarvy pills are purplish-brown and capsule-shaped, with the numbers ‘9883’ written on one side, and the letters ‘GSI’ on the other. Descovy tablets are blue and rectangular, with the numbers ‘225’ on one side and ‘GSI’ on the other.”