The nation’s two largest pharmacy chains, CVS and Rite Aid, have filed a lawsuit against Gilead Sciences, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., and Teva Pharmaceutical for blocking and delaying generic competition of HIV and hepatitis B drugs, according to Silicon Valley Business Journal (SVBJ).

In a civil antitrust suit filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, CVS and Rite Aid said that the companies suppressed generic competition of the drugs Viread (tenofovir), Truvada (emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate), Atripla (efavirenz/emtricitabine/tenofovir), Descovy (emtricitabine/tenofovir alafenamide), and Vemlidy (tenofovir alafenamide).

According to the lawsuit, Gilead and Bristol-Myers used “reverse payments” to force insurers and consumers to overpay millions of dollars for the drugs.

What happens in a reverse payment? A brand-name drugmaker pays potential generic drug competitors in cash or services to delay the introduction of lower-cost medications, according to SVBJ.

Gilded said in a statement, “The lawsuits filed against Gilead, along with two other companies, distorts and misstates Gilead’s history, its collaborations with its partners, and its settlement agreements.”

“Gilead believes this lawsuit and its antitrust allegations are without merit,” the company added. “The allegations against Gilead are misguided and do not accurately reflect antitrust laws or Gilead’s history of innovative collaboration and competition in HIV medicines.”

The lawsuit by CVS and Rite Aid is a significant one because of the deadly nature of HIV, as the virus has killed over 700,000 Americans and 35 million people worldwide.

CVS and Rite Aid said in the lawsuit, “There is and was no legitimate, procompetitive justification for the anticompetitive restraint.”

“Even if there were some conceivable and cognizable justification, the Viread reverse payment was not necessary to achieve such a purpose, and, in any event, such procompetitive effects would be outweighed by the restraint’s anticompetitive effects on direct purchasers, competition, and consumers,” they added.

Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day has been charged in the suit of “anticompetitive behavior” that forced insurers and consumers to overpay for its HIV drugs.

For more details, read the article titled “CVS and Rite Aid have sued Gilead for allegedly blocking lower-cost generic HIV drugs.” Staff reporter Ron Leuty published the story today on SVBJ.