Community News

Member Spotlight: Gilead Works Against Prejudice and Inequality

Published: September 23, 2020

Ceren Aytekin

Ceren Aytekin Istanbul, Turkey INTA Bulletins—Europe Subcommittee

Gretchen Stroud

Gretchen Stroud (Gilead Sciences Inc., Foster City, California, USA)

Gilead Sciences Inc. (Foster City, California, USA) has undertaken a range of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives aimed at strengthening communities that are impacted by prejudice or inequality and “making sure underserved populations get the treatment and diagnosis they deserve like everyone else,” according to Gretchen Stroud, the company’s senior associate general counsel.

Toward this goal, Gilead, a pharmaceutical company founded in the United States more than three decades ago, donated nearly $400 million in 2019 alone to community groups working on the front lines against diseases, according to Ms. Stroud.

As part of this engagement, the company works with organizations worldwide to launch programs that aim to improve access to care by eliminating barriers and advancing education.

According to Ms. Stroud, the company’s HIV/AIDS efforts include: COMPASS, focused on the southern United States; RADIAN (partnered with the Elton John AIDS Foundation), which addresses new HIV infections and deaths from AIDS-related illnesses in Eastern Europe and Central Asia; and HIV Age Positively, which researches ways to improve care, provide education, and inform policy for the growing number of individuals who are living and aging with HIV. Gilead has donated HIV medicine or has licensed its technology so that the HIV medicines can be distributed in low-income countries to treat individuals at risk. Other pharmaceutical initiatives include the Gilead Lift program, to advance education and improve cancer care, and HepConnect, which addresses the opioid crisis and an increase in HCV infections in several U.S. regions. The company also has made donations of hepatitis C medicine as part of hepatitisC eradication projects in Georgia and Mongolia. Gilead has also given away courses of the antifungal drug AmBisome in lower-income countries.

On another front, Gilead is following the current trend of going green by being energy neutral, having green buildings, using renewable energy, pursuing responsible sourcing from its suppliers, and ensuring these suppliers meet environmental performance criteria, she said.

According to Ms. Stroud, when the COVID-19 pandemic took over, Gilead incorporated CSR into its overall efforts to help treat the virus after discovering that remdesivir, a drug invented by Gilead more than a decade ago, may be effective. The company committed to providing its entire supply of remdesivir through June 2020 (1.5 million vials), at no cost, for clinical trials, compassionate use, and expanded access programs, she said.

Gilead’s website notes that remdesivir is an experimental drug that “is not approved anywhere globally for any use.” However, in the United States, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on May 1 authorized its emergency use for hospitalized patients for the treatment of COVID-19 under specific conditions.

The company has been in advanced discussions with UNICEF to utilize the agency’s experience and distribution systems to provide medicines to low- and middle-income countries, and could include donations of remdesivir, Ms. Stroud said.

Turning to Gilead’s corporate inclusion efforts, Ms. Stroud said that the company has employee interest groups such as ones for Black employees and LGBTQ+ employees. She said Gilead is making sure it is hiring and promoting employees appropriately and providing career development opportunities when merited. She also noted that Gilead has provided funding to various LGBTQ+ organizations.

Gilead’s intellectual property legal team is involved in many facets of the company. Ms. Stroud pointed out that one noteworthy aspect of its work involves combating counterfeiters that began selling fake remdesivir online as soon as it was made public that the drug might be an effective treatment against COVID-19.

Beyond registering trademarks at trademark offices around the world, Gilead’s legal team works with health agencies, such as the FDA and the European Medicines Agency, regarding their processes for reviewing proprietary names. Moreover, Gilead interacts with the World Health Organization for its compounds to be assigned generic names, she noted.

Undertaken in alignment with INTA’s 2018–2021 Strategic Plan, which promotes corporate social responsibility (CSR) as one of its objectives, Member Spotlight articles highlight a member organization’s CSR and/or philanthropy initiatives.

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of this article, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.

© 2020 International Trademark Association