Viread Lawsuit

Viread was the first HIV drug sold by Gilead Sciences. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved this drug in 2001, and, at the time, the company promoted it as a miracle for HIV patients. Viread is now the subject of lawsuits that claim the drug causes kidney and bone damage. If you use Viread or have taken it in the past, you should learn about the possible health risks.

What Is a Viread Lawsuit?

In a Viread lawsuit, those who used the drug and now suffer from serious health problems seek compensation from Gilead.

Viread was the first HIV drug sold by Gilead. This medication allowed people to access tenofovir in a pill form. Tenofovir is a drug that prevents HIV from spreading, but it historically couldn’t be taken by mouth alone.

To solve this problem, Gilead created tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF). This version of tenofovir could be taken by mouth and was branded as Viread.

However, as time proved, TDF is poisonous in high doses.

Notable Viread side effects include: 

  • Acute kidney injury
  • Chronic kidney disease (CKD)
  • Kidney failure (end-stage renal disease)
  • Other renal impairments
  • Bone density loss
  • Fractures/breaks in bones
  • Osteoporosis
  • Tooth loss

Recent lawsuits claim that all the dangers of Viread were not disclosed before the drug became available. The warnings for Viread had to be updated multiple times after the product was already in use throughout the United States.

Even worse, Gilead had access to a safer version of TDF called tenofovir alafenamide fumarate (TAF) even before Viread hit the market. TAF also can be taken in pill form, but it is much less toxic than TDF.

However, Gilead continued to sell Viread and other TDF-based drugs for the next 14 years at high prices, needlessly putting people at risk to continue making a profit. Viread is still sold as of 2019.

If you used Viread and developed serious side effects such as kidney or bone problems, you may be able to file a lawsuit against Gilead. Through a lawsuit, you could receive compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses.

Viread Lawsuit 2018

Legal action surrounding Viread and other HIV drugs made national headlines in 2018 and continues to do so today.

  • In one 2018 lawsuit, a man from Louisiana allegedly developed stage three kidney disease after using Viread for a decade. He now suffers from kidney stones, sleep problems, and swollen limbs as a result.
  • In another case, four people filed a lawsuit together in California. These four took Viread and Truvada, another Gilead drug containing TDF. After using Viread for 12 years, one man was told he had the “spine of a ninety-one-year-old and the hips of an eighty-eight-year-old” because his bones had deteriorated so badly. He was 61 at the time.

Filing a Viread Class-Action Lawsuit

In some cases, groups of people who took Viread and suffered similar health problems decided to file one lawsuit together. These types of lawsuits are called class-action lawsuits.

Class-action lawsuits have already been filed against Gilead, such as the four person-lawsuit out of California mentioned previously.

Some class-action lawsuits include hundreds of people. In an ongoing lawsuit, 140 people from 30 different states claim that Viread and other drugs sold by Gilead caused kidney and bone damage.

If you want to file a class-action lawsuit, you should work with an experienced lawyer. Gilead is a multibillion-dollar company, and they will use equally skilled lawyers to defend their interests. You do not want to represent yourself when the other side has professionals handling their case.

Lawyers can help you:

  • Avoid mistakes when filing a lawsuit
  • Build your case and collect evidence to support you
  • File legal documents on time
  • Receive financial compensation

A lawyer can also help you determine if a class-action lawsuit is best for you.

Lawsuits related to product liability — where something like an HIV drug harms the user — are not often handled as a class-action.

Fortunately, a class-action lawsuit is not the only option available.

Other Viread Lawsuit Types

Outside of a class-action lawsuit, those who have developed health issues from the side effect of Viread can file other lawsuits depending on the nature of their case.

Other types of Viread lawsuits include: 

  • Personal Injury Lawsuit: In this type of lawsuit, a person who has been hurt (plaintiff) files against those they believe are responsible for their injuries (defendants). These lawsuits are similar to class-action suits but with only one person taking the legal action.
  • Wrongful Death Lawsuit: If someone has died from an illness/injury related to Viread, their family members can file a wrongful death suit. These lawsuits seek compensation for the family’s grief and suffering, leftover medical expenses, and funeral costs.

No matter which type of lawsuit is filed, your lawyer will work with you from start to finish to get the financial compensation you may deserve.

Settlements vs Trials

Most lawsuits end in one of two ways: a settlement or a trial.

In a settlement, both sides come to an agreement and the lawsuit ends. The plaintiff may receive a lump sum.

If an agreement is not reached, the case will go to trial. In a trial, both sides must present their case before a judge and/or jury.

Here are the pros and cons of each:


  • Faster than a trial
  • No risk of losing the case
  • You could possibly receive more money in a trial


  • You may receive more money than in a settlement
  • Takes longer than a settlement
  • If you lose the case, you get nothing
  • If you win, the other side could appeal to overturn the decision

Legal Help for Viread Health Problems

Those who used Viread never deserved to get sick. However, it appears that more and more people suffered from long-term kidney or bone problems from using the drug.

A 2018 legal complaint states that the first case of TDF-associated kidney failure occurred less than a month after Viread had been made publicly available.

While initial warnings for Viread stated kidney damage was only a risk for those with preexisting conditions, some of those affected had no prior kidney issues. Similarly, Gilead had data showing that long-term use of Viread reduced bone density when used over long periods of time.

Yet, lawsuits claim that Gilead continued to market Viread as a miracle drug with almost no risk of toxicity throughout the early 2000s.

In fact, Gilead did have a safer drug available: TAF. Yet, the company stopped working on a TAF-based HIV drug in 2004, claiming that TAF was too similar to TDF.

However, the company’s president later revealed that TAF could have hurt the sales of Viread and other drugs. Gilead effectively put profits ahead of the health of its customers.

Today, anyone who used Viread and now suffers from kidney and bone damage needs to know their legal options. A lawsuit may help them receive financial compensation for their suffering.

To learn more about Viread lawsuits, get a free 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

View 3 References
  1. Dechow, et al. v. Gilead Sciences Inc. (C.D. Cal. 2018)

  2. Hills v. Gilead Sciences Inc. (M.D. La. 2018)

  3. Holley, et al. v. Gilead Sciences Inc. (N.D. Cal. 2018)