GlaxoSmithKline today issued the following statement responding to announcements that the Attorney General of California has filed a brief in support of litigation sponsored by
the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF):
We are disappointed that the Attorney General has filed a brief asking the
Court to prolong meritless but expensive litigation against GSK, particularly
since the issues in the case were resolved by the courts ten years ago – and
in GSK’s favor.
The Attorney General appears to have written his brief without
regard to these facts or to the exchange of information that has occurred
between the parties. We would welcome the opportunity to speak directly with
the Attorney General to explain the errors in AHF’s litigation, and describe
GSK’s leadership in HIV/AIDS research as well as our extensive and
long-standing support of community programs.
GSK brought the first HIV/AIDS treatment – Retrovir(R) (AZT) – to patients
in 1987. AZT was first synthesized by the Michigan Cancer Foundation, but GSK
scientists were the first to conceive that AZT was useful against HIV/AIDS in
In November 1994, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
confirmed the validity of the patent granted to GSK by the United States
Patent & Trademark Office for the use of AZT to treat AIDS in humans. That
court declared that Burroughs Wellcome (now GSK) employees were the sole
inventors of this use for AZT, and affirmed a permanent injunction against two
generic firms from making or selling AZT until the patent expires in 2005.
The generic firms sought further review by the Supreme Court, which declined
the case. As a result, the decision of the US Court of Appeals became final.
Repeated efforts by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) to re-litigate
this issue are entirely without merit, offer no new information, and are based
on decades’ old history that has already been thoroughly reviewed and decided
by the courts. The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
already dismissed this lawsuit once on March 5, 2003. AHF then filed a new
lawsuit on essentially the same allegations, and GSK has asked the court to
grant summary judgment dismissing the litigation a second time. Other
lawsuits filed by AHF against GSK have either been dismissed or withdrawn.
AHF’s litigation is an attempt to gain a financial settlement from the
company, and is harmful to efforts aimed at meeting the broader needs of
patients with HIV/AIDS. We will defend our company vigorously against AHF’s
frivolous and baseless lawsuit, but deplore the waste of time and money that
could be better spent on improving the health and quality of life of patients
living with HIV/AIDS.
We want to address the real problem — making sure people with HIV/AIDS
receive appropriate treatment — and do not believe this lawsuit advances that
cause. Over the years we have worked productively with many HIV/AIDS groups to
help ensure the needs of patients are met.
AIDS patients have benefited
enormously from the R&D investment made by GSK and others in private industry
to fight the disease. In addition, GSK has made significant commitments to
AIDS education and community support, and to improved access to medicine in
the developing world through reduced-pricing. As a result, GSK has been
honored repeatedly for its extensive humanitarian efforts, particularly in
GlaxoSmithKline – one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical
and healthcare companies is committed to improving the quality of human life
by enabling people to do more, feel better, and live longer. For company
information, visit GSK at http://www.gsk.com.