Read the full article by Mark Kernes at

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Last year Gilead Sciences, the pharmaceutical company that produces HIV PrEP drugs Truvada and the new Descovy, made $3 billion in sales of Truvada. That’s pretty good coin for selling a drug it didn’t have to spend a dime to research.

That research was in fact done by scientists at the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which patented the generic formula for Truvada in 2015, and which stated in a press release yesterday that Gilead had “willfully and deliberatively induced infringement of the HHS patents,” and the U.S. Department of Justice filed suit against Gilead for patent infringement yesterday.

As The Washington Post’s Christopher Rowland pointed out last March, “The Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the CDC and the National Institutes of Health, has patented more than 2,500 inventions created with taxpayer dollars since 1976, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It routinely licenses new pharmaceutical compounds to private companies that take those publicly financed discoveries into the marketplace.”

One problem, though: No matter how much money those private companies make from the CDC’s inventions, the government rarely sees any royalties from those sales, and while those private drug manufacturers often sue each other for patent infringements and the like, the government itself rarely brings such legal actions—and some scientists have become a bit upset over that.