TDF-Based HIV Drug Lawsuit

When HIV drugs made by Gilead Sciences hit the shelves in the early 2000s, a company spokesman called them a “miracle.” However, many of Gilead’s HIV drugs contain tenofovir disoproxil (TDF), a compound linked to kidney and bone damage. Today, those who took TDF drugs and developed these health problems can file a lawsuit against Gilead.

What Is an HIV Lawsuit?

Gilead has dominated the industry since its first HIV medication, Viread, was approved in 2001. Gilead knew Viread could be highly toxic to patients’ kidneys and bones. The company later made similar drugs, such as Atripla, to help those with HIV. One drug, Truvada, has also been FDA-approved as an HIV prevention.

However, TDF-based HIV drugs can be toxic in high doses.

TDF drugs may cause the following health problems: 

  • Acute kidney injury (AKI)
  • Bone density loss
  • Chronic kidney disease (CKD)
  • Kidney failure (end-stage renal disease)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Renal impairment
  • Tooth loss

Gilead discovered a safer drug called tenofovir alafenamide fumarate (TAF) before they started selling TDF drugs. However, they held the release of the TAF drug until 2015. Gilead did not want to hurt TDF sales by admitting that its TDF-based drugs are unsafe.

Today, those who took Gilead’s TDF drugs and developed kidney or bone issues can file a lawsuit against the company. Through a lawsuit, those affected may receive financial compensation to pay for their medical treatment and other expenses.

As of 2019, lawsuits against Gilead continue to make news headlines across the country.

How Can a Lawsuit Help Me?

A lawsuit can help victims of TDF drug-related health problems recover from the medical and financial harm they suffered.

Until 2015, many HIV drugs sold by Gilead contained TDF, including:  

Gilead has sold its TDF-based HIV drugs for nearly 20 years in the United States. Yet, the FDA warned Gilead that the company was downplaying the risks of its drugs in 2002, 2003, and 2010.

Now, according to lawsuits filed in 2018, those already suffering from HIV are paying the price. For example, those with end-stage renal disease will need dialysis or a kidney transplant to stay alive.

According to the University of California, San Francisco, the average cost of a kidney transplant is $57,000 without health insurance or Medicare. Kidney dialysis costs around $89,000 a year.

Another part of the problem is the fact that Gilead charged thousands of dollars a month for its HIV drugs.

For example, the current cost of a month’s supply of Truvada ranges from about $1,600-2,000 in the U.S. That’s over $20,000 a year. A generic form of Truvada sells for less than $100 a year in other countries.

This means that Gilead has made billions by needlessly charging the consumer — you — tens of thousands of dollars a year. Even worse, the company’s drugs can cause serious illnesses.

By filing a lawsuit, you can take action against Gilead for not only damaging your health but also for taking your hard-earned money.

Filing an HIV Medication Lawsuit

While each lawsuit is different, there are a few general steps that apply to most HIV medicine lawsuits.

To file a lawsuit, you need to:

  • Contact a Law Firm: Working with a law firm is easier than filing a case on your own. By contacting a law firm, you can learn if you are able to file a lawsuit.
  • Start the Investigation: Your legal team will begin gathering evidence to build the case. They may need information from you such as medical documents, prescription records, and hospital bills.
  • File the Lawsuit: Once your lawyers have collected the information they need, they will compile it into a formal complaint and file it with a court.
  • Await the Outcome: After the case is filed, your lawyers will begin corresponding with lawyers for the defendant (Gilead or another HIV drug company). These lawyers will examine both sides of evidence and try to come to an agreement to end the lawsuit.

For best results, anyone looking to file an HIV drug lawsuit should work with an experienced lawyer or law firm. Lawyers have the knowledge and experience to file complex legal paperwork properly and build the strongest case possible on your behalf.

Without their help, you could receive minimal or no compensation.

A lawyer can also help you determine which type of lawsuit will work best for your case.

There are a few different types of lawsuits you can file, including: 

Class-Action Lawsuit

In a class-action lawsuit, groups of people affected by a similar issue file one lawsuit together.

As of 2018, class-action HIV drug lawsuits are common. In one of the most notable, 140 plaintiffs jointly filed against Gilead in November 2018.

These plaintiffs all took TDF-based HIV drugs for years and now suffer from bone density problems and/or kidney damage. As of May 2019, the lawsuit was still ongoing.

However, most mass tort and product liability cases are not handled as class-action cases.

Personal Injury Lawsuit

In a personal injury lawsuit, someone files against the party that they believe caused them to suffer harm. Gilead has faced a few personal injury lawsuits as of 2019, including ones from plaintiffs in Louisiana, the District of Columbia, and California.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit

If someone dies from complications of an illness or injury caused by someone else, their family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit. These lawsuits seek compensation to cover the medical bills left behind, as well as grief, suffering, and funeral expenses.

Settlements vs Trials

Lawsuits come to an end in two ways: they are either settled out of court or a jury decides the verdict in a trial.


Most legal teams will want to reach an out-of-court settlement.

Settlements are beneficial because: 

  • They can save both sides time
  • The defendant receives a lump sum of money
  • The process is typically quicker than a trial

However, the defendant could possibly receive more money if the case goes to trial.


In some cases, a lawsuit may go to trial before a jury. In a trial, one side is declared the winner, and they receive a large payout.

However, most lawyers want to avoid a trial because: 

  • They add more time to the legal process
  • If you lose, you get nothing
  • The verdict could be overturned by the defendant later on

Legal Help for HIV Drug Lawsuits

As companies like Gilead continue to sell TDF-based HIV drugs, anyone who uses them should know the risks.

In addition, those who used drugs like Truvada, Viread, Atripla, Complera, and Stribild and developed long-term or permanent damage to the kidneys or bones should know their legal options.

While these issues are gaining more publicity today, they may not have been known to doctors or consumers when these products first hit the market.

Even worse, Gilead made billions of dollars from TDF drugs while TAF, a safer variant, could have been used.

To learn more about filing an HIV lawsuit, get a free legal case review today.

Author:HIV Drug Justice Editorial Team
HIV Drug Justice Editorial Team

HIV Drug Justice educates people about the risks of HIV drugs, which can cause kidney failure and bone damage. Our site is managed by the HIV Drug Justice Editorial Team, a group of concerned writers, editors, journalists, and illustrators. Our team helps readers understand what medical and legal options are available if they used dangerous HIV drugs and developed serious health problems as a result.

Last modified: September 17, 2019

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