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HIV Drug Linked to Bone and Kidney Health Complications

  • Author Drug Dangers Team
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The medical community continues to see advancement in the treatment of HIV and AIDS. Many of these treatments have improved the quality of and lengthened the lives of those diagnosed with the disease. Unfortunately, some of these medications have also caused serious side effects and complications.

One of these drugs, tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, also known as TDF, is the subject of recent lawsuits filed against its manufacturer, Gilead Sciences, Inc. At least four HIV positive patients filed claims against the company after using TDF and suffering unexpected side effects and injuries related to kidney and bone health.

TDF Use Shown to Be Cause of Kidney Disease and Bone Weakening

TDF is part of a class of drugs known as nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) that work by blocking the enzyme that allows HIV to multiply in the body, allowing the growth of the virus in the body to be controlled. As a result, those with HIV are supposed to feel healthier and live longer. There is also evidence the medication makes a person less contagious.

The drug was approved in 2001 and showed promise, buy users have found there is a downside they weren’t expecting: the drug appears to increase the risk of kidney and bone health problems.

A 2010 review of 17 different studies on TDF showed that use of the drug was associated with “significant loss of kidney function.” A link was also found between use of TDF and loss of bone density.

According to the lawsuit, Gilead was aware of the risks but kept them hidden. Furthermore, the plaintiffs allege Gilead had another safer drug in the works but held back on its development in order to gain as much profit from TDF as possible prior to the expiration of the patent.

The lawsuit claims that Gilead was aware of the medication’s risks in 2001 and had already begun research into a similar but safer option that actually worked more effectively. However, because Gilead had a monopoly on TDF-containing drugs, it wanted to withhold the safer option from the market until it had earned as much as possible from the riskier version.

It wasn’t until 2014 when the patent for TDF was nearing expiration that Gilead began developing and promoting the safer alternative.

Additionally, the company is accused of hiking some TDF drug prices by 7 percent once the alternative drugs were introduced to the market. The price hike came just as the TDF patent was about to expire, allegedly in an attempt to get doctors and patients to use newer drugs before generic options became available.

Class Action Sought by Injured TDF Users

As a result of their injuries and the injuries of others who used TDF, the plaintiffs are seeking class action status for those who took the medication between 2001, the year of its approval, and today.

Anyone who used TDF drugs to treat HIV and suffered any of the complications listed below could be eligible to participate in a class action lawsuit.

Kidney injuries including:

  • Declining kidney function
  • Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
  • Acute kidney injury
  • Acute renal failure
  • Tubular dysfunction

Bone injuries including:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Osteopenia
  • Bone fractures

Notwithstanding claims relating to this product, the drug/medical device remains approved by the U.S. FDA. 

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