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Why is this so inexpensive? Why/how does it cost $49 per month instead of $1600?

You may be wondering how generics can be cheaper when they are identical to the branded drug. Here’s why.

The medication used as PrEP is patented, which means that only one company, Gilead, is legally allowed to produce and sell emtricitabine/tenofovir in USA, Canada, the UK, Australia, EU, and other developed countries. As Gilead has no competition, they can charge whatever price they feel the market will bear.

Developing countries, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa, India, Pakistan, Thailand, etc. clearly cannot afford to pay $1600/month for essential anti-HIV medications. Companies like Gilead have, fortunately, agreed to not enforce their patents in these countries. This allows the production and distribution of generic versions of their drugs in resource-poor settings. As a result, over two-thirds of the world’s anti-HIV medications are now produced in India. Other major producers of generics include South Africa, Thailand and Brazil.

The process of developing a drug, testing it and obtaining approval for it from health authorities is a lengthy and costly one. The brand’s owners need to recoup the costs they incurred as well as the costs of marketing the drug once it is ready for release onto the market.

For this reason, a new drug will be patented for several years on its key markets, enabling the original manufacturers to recover their costs and make a profit. Once the patent expires, any pharmaceutical company can produce generics.

By purchasing this medication from a country where it is legally produced and distributed in generic form, PrEPGeneric customers are circumventing one company’s monopoly and price tag which is unaffordable for the vast majority of individuals and, arguably, the healthcare system itself.

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