Truvada, a popular medication used to treat and even prevent HIV, has been connected with serious complications, including lactic acidosis, kidney failure, liver problems and bone problems.

These side effects are serious and potentially life-threatening.

Recent lawsuits allege that Truvada manufacturer Gilead Sciences knowingly downplayed the potential side effects and, even worse, may have suppressed a safer version of the HIV treatment in order to maximize profits.

If true, that a company which supposedly is dedicated to treating and preventing such a terrible disease as HIV, would knowingly expose patients to danger in order to line its pockets is nothing short of shocking and disappointing.

For years, people suffering from HIV and AIDS have been marginalized by society. Each person in our country should be protected from negligent behavior by pharmaceutical companies or any other business that puts profit ahead of health.

People who have used Truvada or Truvada for PrEP should know the risks. Those who have suffered injury may be entitled to compensation. Multiple lawsuits have been filed against Gilead Sciences in courts across the country.

According to a court filing made on behalf of plaintiffs in California, Gilead Sciences knew as early as 2001 that tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) was “highly toxic in the doses prescribed and risked permanent and possibly fatal damage to the kidneys and bones.”

According to a report from AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a non-profit providing treatment to HIV/AIDS patients worldwide, Gilead Sciences also “deliberately and maliciously suppressed from the market its alternate and newer formulation of the drug … in order to extend the patent life — and sales — of its existing medications that included TDF.”

Michael Lujano, who was diagnosed with AIDS and prescribed Truvada, is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

His words summarize the heart-wrenching anguish of the victims involved:

“A company I trusted with my life took advantage of that trust by misrepresenting the side effects of TDF, calling it the ‘Miracle Drug’ and using other deceptive marketing strategies. Gilead shelved a far safer drug, TAF, simply to increase its long-term profits. I’m bringing this lawsuit to try to hold Gilead responsible for their reckless focus on profits over patient safety.”

The next time you watch TV, please listen and pay special attention to the long advertisement sponsored by Truvada and decide for yourself.

The troubling allegations against Gilead Sciences are a reminder that in an age of promising treatments for terrible diseases like HIV and AIDS, we must exercise caution.

Justice is for everyone in our society, not just the rich and powerful.

Gene Riddle is founding partner at Riddle & Brantley LLP, a North Carolina law firm that represents injury victims, including those injured by dangerous drugs.