Gilead scores a $33M settlement from its campaign against ‘colossal financial fraud’
More than 18 months and 860 court filings later, Gilead has bagged a new settlement in its campaign against a group of companies that participated in an alleged fraud aimed at its free meds program for people at risk of HIV.
Gilead, along with healthcare clinic Well Care and execs Willie Peacock and Shajuandrine Garcia, reached a settlement worth $33 million last week. Gilead is dropping its allegations against the clinic, and the parties involved will pay their own attorney fees.
The saga began in 2020, after Gilead sued more than 50 Florida-based pharmacies, providers and clinics in November that year for allegedly scheming to exploit the pharma’s “Advancing Access Medication Assistance Program,” which provides free HIV PrEP medicines to certain uninsured individuals to prevent them from contracting HIV.
According to Gilead’s initial 138-page filing, the schemes included a common modus operandi:
…recruiting individuals who earn low incomes or are homeless to serve as placeholder “patients”; prescribing those “patients” medically unnecessary, inappropriate, and often unwanted PrEP medication; falsely certifying to Gilead’s representatives that the prescriptions are medically necessary and appropriate; seeking reimbursement from Gilead, under false pretenses, for the cost of those fraudulently dispensed medications; unlawfully removing PrEP medication from its original, FDA-approved packaging and separating it from its original, FDA-approved labeling; repackaging PrEP medication in an unlawful, trademark-infringing, and potentially dangerous manner for dispensation to the recruited “patients”; and unlawfully repurchasing those medications back from “patients” for pennies on the dollar so they can be resold at a higher price on the black market. In addition to defrauding Gilead out of tens of millions of dollars and jeopardizing Gilead’s hard-earned goodwill, Defendants’ schemes have placed at risk the health — and even the lives—of Floridians who are economically challenged.
Gilead further blasted the defendants in its original filing, calling the schemes “a colossal financial fraud.”
In a statement to Endpoints News, a Gilead spokesperson said, “Well Care and its president, Mike Peacock, played a central role in the conspiracy by partnering with one of the main defendant groups to expand the fraudulent scheme to Jacksonville and enrich themselves at Gilead’s expense. The Well Care defendants actively recruited and paid thousands of vulnerable Floridians to enroll in Gilead’s free-drug program for PrEP regardless of whether they wanted or needed PrEP medication, putting patient safety at risk.”
As part of the judgment that Gilead and Well Care agreed to, Well Care is permanently enjoined from ever participating in Gilead’s free drug program again.
Keith Silverstein, one of the attorneys that represented Well Care in the lawsuit heard in district court in the Southern District of Florida, confirmed the settlement, but declined to comment for this story.
This is only the most recent settlement Gilead has made in the case so far, with a Gilead spokesperson telling Endpoints that of the 58 defendants named in the original complaint, only 12 remain.
Florida had a recent issue itself with an HIV drug operation, after a Florida man was reported to be facing more than a century in prison after distributing more than $230 million in adulterated and mislabeled HIV medicines.