Foster City’s pharmaceutical company, Gilead Sciences, lately in the news for the possibility of remdesivir coronavirus treatment drugs, sending patients taking HIV drug letters in an envelope revealing they have problems related to the virus, a new lawsuit looking for class action claims.
Two men, from Alabama and Indiana, said in the lawsuit that they were among hundreds of patients taking the Gilead preventative and treatment drugs and were registered with the company’s patient support program. But despite the program’s registration form that says “confidentiality is very important to us,” Gilead in April sent men, and others in the program, letters in an envelope showing “HIV Prevention Team” above the sender’s address, lawsuit filed Thursday in the US District Court in San Francisco accused.
“The words HIV Prevention Team Team ‘has a font that is larger than the mailing address, making it stand out in relation to the address,” claims the legal complaint seeking the status of class action.
Gilead said in a statement Friday that they regretted raising concerns by sending an envelope containing the “HIV Prevention Team” at the sender’s address.
“We understand that health issues are very personal for the people we serve, and consumer privacy is the most important,” the company said.
“We apologize to anyone who is affected. However, we reject the statement in the complaint and will submit our response on time. “
People with HIV – the virus that causes AIDS – as well as people at risk of HIV infection and patients who use drugs to prevent infection face “extreme stigma,” the alleged lawsuit said. Gilead, the lawsuit claimed, “carelessly, carelessly, negligently, and unreasonably revealed confidential HIV-related information from patients prescribed Gilead drugs, including to family, friends, roommates, landlords, neighbors, postal operators, and strangers which is completely unknown. “
The plaintiff from Alabama “is careful not to disclose his sexual orientation or sexual practices with others and has not revealed his sexual orientation to his family,” the lawsuit claims. So that Gilead’s letter would not go to his house, he gave the address of the office of the workplace to the company, the suit said.
“The workplace has a mailroom and employs people to sort mail. He was shocked when he walked into the mailroom and found an envelope with the sender’s ‘HIV Prevention Team’ address, ” the alleged lawsuit. “The envelope can be accessed by anyone who comes to the mailroom.”
The Indiana plaintiff “is very guarded about his privacy,” the lawsuit claims. “He is careful not to reveal his sexual orientation or sexual practices with others. He was surprised when he received the HIV Prevention Team’s Letter because it revealed in his clear view that he was concerned about HIV prevention. (He) felt vulnerable and worried about who might see the letter. “
Gilead said they took action immediately after discovering that “envelope templates normally used for communication with health care professionals are inadvertently used for consumer mailers.” The company has begun a full review of the process and training for employees and external vendors, he said.
The lawsuit says a $ 17 million settlement was paid by the health insurance company Aetna after more than 12,000 insured people, using HIV drugs, in 2017 sent a letter that could be read in part through an envelope window. It also cites the $ 4.4 million settlement paid by CVS for letters sent to 6,000 people in 2017 indicating “HIV” through the envelope window.
“Gilead could easily avoid disclosure … of personal information by using a sender’s address that does not identify the sender as the HIV Prevention Team,” the lawsuit claims.
The plaintiff sought indeterminate compensation, and the status of the lawsuit for the lawsuit, to bring in hundreds of others who they allegedly received the letter “HIV Prevention Team”.
Gilead said in his statement, “We recognize that this is a serious problem and encourage anyone affected or seek further information to contact the privacy team directly at +1 (833) GILEAD2 or +1 (833) 445-3232 or by email in privacy @ gilead.com. “