Counterfeit Biktarvy and Descovy Found in U.S.
On August 5, 2021, Gilead Sciences announced that it had become aware that tampered or counterfeit versions of Biktarvy, its once-daily single-tablet HIV treatment regimen, and of Descovy, its HIV treatment and prevention medication, have been found within U.S. distribution networks. They said that distributors not authorized by Gilead to sell Gilead-branded medicine have sold these counterfeits to pharmacies where genuine Gilead bottles have been tampered with a counterfeit foil induction seal or label and contain incorrect tablets.
Gilead has worked with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to inform potentially impacted pharmacies to check their supplies of Gilead-produced medications to ensure the authenticity of the drugs and to remain vigilant to prevent the spread of tampered or counterfeit medicines.
Fortunately, there have been no reported adverse events related to the use of the counterfeit product. However, Gilead warns that “[c]ounterfeit and tampered medicines can bring serious and sometimes life-threatening health risks to individuals. These medicines are not equivalent in quality, safety, and/or efficacy to genuine medicines. They often do not contain the correct medicine or amount of active ingredient and may also contain impurities. Additionally, these medicines may be produced in unsafe manufacturing conditions and travel through insecure supply chains.”
You can check your supply of Biktarvy or Descovy rather easily:
1) Authentic Biktarvy tablets are purplish-brown, capsule-shaped pills with “9883” on one side and “GSI” on the other. Authentic Descovy tablets are blue, rectangular pills with “225” on one side and “GSI” on the other.
2) FDA requires that Biktarvy and Descovy are dispensed in original packaging. Confirm that your dispensed 30-count bottle of Biktarvy or Descovy are received in bottles that are white plastic, with white plastic caps, and Gilead-branded labels.
3) Confirm that your Biktarvy and Descovy were dispensed from a pharmacy that sources Gilead medicine directly from Gilead authorized distributors. A list of Gilead’s authorized distributors can be found at https://www.gilead.com/purpose/medication-access/authorized-distributors.
If you think you have been dispensed a counterfeit and/or tampered Gilead medication, immediately report the medicine to their doctor and pharmacy and Gilead Product Quality Complaints (1-800-445-3235, Option #2; or log on to [email protected]).
—Reporting by Hank Trout
Hank Trout, Senior Editor, edited Drummer, Malebox, and Folsom magazines in the early 1980s. A long-term survivor of HIV/AIDS (diagnosed in 1989), he is a forty-one-year resident of San Francisco, where he lives with his husband Rick.