AIDS Healthcare Foundation To Refile Lawsuit Over GlaxoSmithKline’s Antiretroviral Drug Patents
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the largest nongovernmental provider of health care services for people with HIV/AIDS in the United States, on Monday announced plans to refile a lawsuit against pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline over their antiretroviral drug patents, Reuters Health reports (Reuters Health, 3/25). U.S. District Judge Terry Hatter earlier this month dismissed the lawsuit, which was filed by AHF in July 2002 against the U.S. branch of GSK. AHF alleges that the company's prices for its drugs "exorbitantly exceed" its licensing, manufacturing and distribution costs, "present[ing] a formidable obstacle for proper treatment of the AIDS epidemic in the United States," according to the suit. Epivir, Retrovir and Ziagen -- three drugs often used in combination antiretroviral therapy -- were developed with "significant amounts" of federal funding and should be sold "at more reasonable rates," according to the suit. The suit also focuses on patent issues surrounding Retrovir, Epivir and Ziagen, stating that the patents on these drugs should be invalidated for their "obviousness" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/13). While it was "initially unclear" whether AHF would be allowed to refile the lawsuit, a court order issued Sunday said that the dismissal of the lawsuit was made "without prejudice," allowing for amendment and refiling of the lawsuit, according to Reuters Health (Reuters Health, 3/25). "We cannot -- and will not -- allow GSK's inflated price for AZT and other HIV medications to stand unchallenged," Michael Weinstein, president of AHF, said, adding, "We believe GSK has no legitimate claim to the underlying patents and are grateful to Judge Hatter to have the opportunity to continue to pursue this injustice in court" (AHF release, 3/21). A GSK spokesperson said that the company is unsure how AHF plans to amend the suit, adding that the company believes that the claims previously filed were "without merit" (Reuters Health, 3/25).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.