LOS ANGELES, April 4 2005 – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network — A California federal court has ruled that GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) Chief Executive Officer, Jean-Pierre Garnier, must answer further questions in a deposition in a patent piracy lawsuit
brought against the British drug giant over GSK’s patent for AZT (Retrovir),
the first AIDS drug. The case was filed in July 2002 by AIDS Healthcare
Foundation (AHF), the largest AIDS organization in the US, which operates free
AIDS treatment clinics in the US, Africa, Central America and Asia. The legal
action challenges the legitimacy of GSK’s claims on the patent for AZT and
other derivative AIDS drugs. As part of the legal proceedings, attorneys for
AHF deposed Garnier in late January 2005 in Philadelphia, however, the CEO of
the multi-national drug giant left questions unanswered during that deposition
and AHF’s attorneys petitioned the court to be able to continue Garnier’s
In late March, United States District Court Magistrate Judge
Charles Eick ruled in favor of AHF’s motion to continue with Garnier’s
deposition (United States District Court for Central District of California,
Western Division Case No. CV-03-02792 TJH ex).
“We are grateful for the court’s recent ruling that allows us to continue
with our legal deposition of Mr. Garnier,” said Michael Weinstein, President
of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “GSK’s lawyers have repeatedly called our AZT
patent piracy lawsuit ‘frivolous’ and ‘without merit,’ yet they also stall and
try to block our search for answers at every junction. We look forward now to
moving ahead with our legal challenge to GSK’s stranglehold on the patent for
AZT — a drug it neither invented nor proved its efficacy against HIV — and
the patents for GSK’s other derivative AIDS drugs.”
AZT was first created with funding from the National Institutes of Health
in 1964 as a possible cancer drug, but GSK obtained the patent on the drug and
then priced both it and certain derivative drugs well above competitive rates.
As a result, GSK now controls 40% of the lucrative U.S. AIDS drug market, with
a current worldwide market for its AIDS medications estimated at approximately
$2 billion dollars annually. Combivir and Trizivir, Glaxo’s best selling AIDS
drugs today, contain AZT and offer patients the convenience of two-in-one and
three-in-one therapeutic drug combinations in one pill.
For further information, contact Tom Myers, AHF General Counsel
323.860.5259, Michael Weinstein, AHF President, 323.860.5300 or Ged Kenslea,
AHF Communications Director, 323.860.5225.