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National News

AIDS Group Refiles Drug-Patent Challenge

April 24, 2003

AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the nation's largest AIDS medical care provider, announced Monday that it has filed an amended version of its previously dismissed legal challenge to GlaxoSmithKline's patents on three of GSK's best-selling HIV drugs.

Early last year, AHF denied GSK sales representatives access to its clinics on the grounds that GSK was charging twice as much for its HIV drugs in developing countries as competing pharmaceutical firms. Soon after, AHF filed a lawsuit alleging that one of GSK's predecessor companies falsely obtained patents on the HIV drug AZT, which was created by the National Institutes of Health in 1964 as a potential cancer treatment. The suit called for the company's patent on AZT, as well as related HIV combination drugs Combivir and Trizivir, to be invalidated.

AHF's suit, however, was dismissed in March. According to GSK, the court determined that the litigation attempted to re-open issues previously settled in the 1990s, when a US Court of Appeals ruled that GSK's researchers did invent the use of AZT as an anti-HIV agent. As a result, the non-profit organization has refiled its suit, withdrawing claims related to the Bayh-Dole Act -- legislation passed in 1980 that permits businesses and universities to acquire control over government-funded inventions to facilitate commercialization. AHF General Counsel Tom Meyers said that although the court did not specify why it accepted GSK's request for dismissal, the organization decided to drop the Bayh-Dole Act-related claims because the legislation does not give private entities permission to litigate over violations of the act.

AHF's new suit will instead focus on GSK's alleged monopolization of the HIV/AIDS drug market and on the drugs' patents themselves. Meyers added that the amended suit strengthens AHF's position by including new information. GSK insists that AHF's challenges are without merit.

Back to other CDC news for April 24, 2003

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Adapted from:
Reuters Health

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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