Settlements of Truvada lawsuits and TDF lawsuits are likely to resolve the mass tort claims against Gilead Sciences, Inc. for the side effects caused by Truvada and their other HIV treatment drugs. However, because the lawsuits are still very new, settlements are still a long ways away. When they are made, these settlements would aim to compensate TDF victims for their losses, including:
- Past medical bills,
- Future medical expenses associated with side effects of TDF or Truvada,
- Lost wages and reduced earning capacity,
- Pain and suffering, and
- The loss of companionship suffered by the victim's family.
- 1. No settlements in Truvada and TDF lawsuits, yet
- 2. Likely timeline for Truvada lawsuit settlements
- 3. Likely payout from TDF settlements
1. No settlements in Truvada and TDF lawsuits, yet
There have not yet been any settlements in Truvada cases or TDF lawsuits. In fact, it is unlikely that settlement negotiations have started yet because of how new the lawsuits are.
The first batch of lawsuits against Gilead for the side effects of Truvada and other TDF-based HIV drugs was filed on May 8, 2018. Some of these lawsuits were filed by individual victims.1 One was filed as a class action representing TDF victims in the state of California.2
These lawsuits, which are being brought on behalf of victims by an AIDS healthcare advocacy organization, quickly created a stir in the news media, starting with an in-depth exposé in the Los Angeles Times the very next day.3
As is often the case with mass tort claims, the media attention served to notify other victims that the side effects they were experiencing were widespread and that other people were taking legal action for the injuries they have suffered. Other victims soon followed suit.4 The number of TDF lawsuits has since spread into the hundreds.
However, because barely a year has passed since the first TDF lawsuits were filed, both Gilead and the victims are still gathering evidence of what happened. Settlement negotiations are unlikely to even begin until there is substantial evidence that Gilead's conduct hurt people.
2. Likely timeline for Truvada lawsuit settlements
Based on similar mass tort claims that are based on defective drugs and a pharmaceutical company's failure to warn people about serious risks, it could still be several years before settlements are made in Truvada lawsuits.
Because there are likely thousands of people who have suffered from the serious side effects of Truvada or other TDF drugs, courts are likely to consolidate all of these lawsuits into a multidistrict litigation, or MDL. MDLs combine all similar cases for the pretrial procedures in front of one federal district court, including:
- Evidence gathering,
- Motions to dismiss,
- Motions to exclude evidence,
- Expert testimony, and
- Summary judgment motions.
This streamlines the process and allows victims to share evidence with one another, rather than having to discover it independently in each claim for compensation.
In theory, MDLs end by sending each lawsuit back to the court from which it came, where it would then go to trial.
Increasingly, though, MDLs have included settlement negotiations. To further those negotiations, MDLs conduct bellwether trials. These trials take representative cases from the MDL and take them through a jury trial. The success or failure of the bellwether trials then influences the settlement negotiation.
From start to finish, the MDL process can take well over two years.5
TDF lawsuits, however, have yet to be consolidated into an MDL, yet.
3. Likely payout from TDF settlements
If the claims made by the victims in TDF lawsuits are true, the payout is likely to be substantial because of the profits that TDF drugs have made Gilead Sciences, Inc. and the potential for punitive damages being assessed against the company.
According to lawsuits filed by the victims, Gilead both failed to warn doctors and patients of the risks of their HIV drugs, and withheld a safer drug from the market. By not adequately warning people of the severe side effects that TDF and Truvada could cause, victims could not make informed decisions about their health that could have avoided their injuries. By withholding a safer version of TDF-based HIV drugs, Gilead forced victims to needlessly continue to experience those side effects.6
The lawsuits claim that this course of conduct allowed Gilead to make around $18 billion per year on its HIV drugs, all while putting patients at risk so it could extend the market protection for its TDF-based drugs.7
If these claims are proven true, the threat of being taken to court where they could be penalized with punitive damages could increase Gilead's willingness to settle TDF lawsuits outside the courtroom. This willingness would be reflected in payouts that go beyond the compensatory damages that aim to cover a victim's losses, like:
- Medical expenses,
- Lost wages, earning potential, and business,
- Loss of consortium, and
- Pain and suffering.
Instead, these settlements would reflect Gilead's interest in settling the case before too much evidence was made public about their business decisions.
Melody Petersen, “Patients sue Gilead, saying drug company intentionally delayed safer HIV medicine,” Los Angeles Times (May 9, 2018).
See e.g., In Re: Proton-Pump Inhibitor Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2789 (D. N.J.) (formed on August 2, 2017 and still gathering evidence) and In re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2741 (N.D. Cal.) (formed October 4, 2016 and now conducting bellwether trials).
See Complaint at 1-4 Martinez v. Gilead Sciences, Inc., No. BC 705063 (Cal. filed May 8, 2018).
Id. at 5.