Atripla was developed to help treat patients suffering from HIV. Numerous side effects and complications have resulted in lawsuits against the manufacturer, Gilead Sciences, Inc. Plaintiffs have alleged the company knew about these problems yet failed to warn patients. There is even some evidence that Gilead intentionally withheld a safer version of Atripla to maximize profits.
Atripla is a combination of three different drugs: efavirenz (EFV), emtricitabine (FTC), and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF). TDF helps stop the spread of HIV cells, but it does not cure HIV or AIDS. The other drugs help treat HIV complications. Taken once daily as a pill, Atripla contains high concentrations of EFV, FTC, and TDF. It is known to cause such side effects as fatigue, dizziness, headache, stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, muscle pain, and depression.
The medication, particularly the TDF component, has also been linked to more severe physical conditions. Many of these affect the bones. Lawsuits have alleged such problems as loss of bone density (osteopenia) and osteoporosis. When bones are weakened, other complications arise. Thinner, more frail bones can be easily fractured, even with minor injuries. Numerous side effects interfering with normal kidney function have been reported as well. Among these are chronic kidney disease.
Lawsuits have been filed across the country, with many more pending. Plaintiffs have alleged several causes of action including manufacturing defects, failure to warn, and strict liability. The potential damages include:
- Medical bills to treat Atripla complications
- Future medical bils for ongoing care
- Lost wages
- Lost or decreased earning capacity
- Pain, suffering, and emotional distress
- Anxiety and sleep loss
- Funeral and burial expenses (in the event of wrongful death)
- Attorney fees and court costs
- Punitive damages
The punitive damages largely concern claims that Gilead developed, then intentionally hid, a safe alternative to TDF. These lawsuits allege that a different constituent drug, tenofovir alafenamide fumarate (TAF), accomplished similar results with less physical harm. But the company is said to have buried research showing this, in the interest of its corporate profits. Litigants have argued that rather than put TAF on the market, Gilead quietly shelved and patented it. This was done to keep TAF in the waiting to sell when patents on its TDF drugs expired. Had the company marketed the safer TAF drugs, it would have taken a financial hit.
Many lawsuits argue that Gilead at least knew about Atripla’s harmful side effects but failed to warn patients and doctors. That is, Gilead did not disclose such information on their warning labels as required by law. When drug companies fail to warn about safety risks, doctors cannot reliably prescribe medication. And when patients don’t know about the possible consequences of a drug, they cannot make an informed choice. Even worse, their health is jeopardized because the drug company puts profits over people. Patients deserve to know the nature of medications that are sold to them.
Mass tort lawyers have taken on Gilead over product defect and related claims. These lawsuits can be exceptionally complex and involve complicated areas of law. To effectively pursue litigation, attorneys and others must investigate patients’ medical records and treatment histories. Cases also rely upon expert witnesses to break down difficult scientific and medical concepts. Gilead, meanwhile, is aggressively working to fend off lawsuits in order to protect its bottom line. Anyone who has suffered from Atripla side effects is advised to consult a health professional as well as legal counsel. Depending on their circumstances, they could be entitled to monetary compensation for their injuries.