Judge Dismisses AIDS Healthcare Foundation Anti-Trust Lawsuit Against GlaxoSmithKline
U.S. District Judge Terry Hatter last week dismissed a lawsuit brought against GlaxoSmithKline by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, according to a GSK release (GSK release, 3/10). AHF, the largest nongovernmental provider of health care services for people with HIV/AIDS in the United States, filed suit in July 2002 against the U.S. branch of GSK, charging that several of the company's patents for its antiretroviral drugs are invalid and that its prices "exorbitantly exceed" its licensing, manufacturing and distribution costs. The lawsuit, which was filed in a U.S. district court in California, claims that the prices of GSK's AIDS drugs "present a formidable obstacle for proper treatment of the AIDS epidemic in the United States." Epivir, Retrovir and Ziagen were developed with "significant amounts" of federal funding and should be sold "at more reasonable rates," the suit states. The suit also focuses on the patent issues surrounding Retrovir, Epivir and Ziagen -- three drugs often used in combination antiretroviral therapy -- stating that some of the patents on these drugs should be invalidated for their "obviousness" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/1/2002). "We are pleased that the court agreed with our position and dismissed what was a frivolous and wasteful lawsuit," Peter Hare, vice president of GSK's HIV department said, adding, "The needs of patients demand that our energies remain focused not on litigation, but on research to find new treatments and on developing positive relationships to help more patients access existing treatments" (GSK release, 3/10). AHF President Michael Weinstein said that the foundation plans to appeal the lawsuit, adding, "With 8,500 people dying of AIDS every day, we can not allow GSK's inflated price for AZT and other HIV medications to stand unchallenged since GSK has no legitimate claim to the underlying patents" (AHF release, 3/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.