quarta-feira, setembro 21, 2005

Glaxo perde licença sobre AZT

AHF 17.09.05

Glaxo Loses Patent on First AIDS Drug, AZT; AHF Blasts Glaxo’s & Drug Industry’s Greed
US’ Largest AIDS Group Vows to Continue Its AZT Patent Piracy Lawsuit Against British Drug Giant, Says Glaxo’s Action and Position on Patents for Life-saving AIDS Drugs, “Too Little, Too Late.”

LOS ANGELES, September 17 2005
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, today cheered the news that GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) patent for AZT (Retrovir® or zidovudine), the very first AIDS drug, ends today, seventeen years after it was first patented for use against HIV/AIDS, but urged the British drug giant, which controls more than 40% of the US market for HIV/AIDS drugs, to do more in the worldwide fight against AIDS. AHF, which has a patent piracy lawsuit pending against GSK over AZT, also vowed to continue its legal fight against the multi-national drug firm.

“While we are happy to see the end of GSK’s patent protection for AZT, this development comes as too little, too late, particularly for a drug that GSK didn’t even invent,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “When AZT was first introduced as an AIDS drug - and, at the time, was the only available treatment - people died because they could not afford the ten thousand dollar price tag. This astronomical price set the precedent for the pricing of virtually all AIDS drugs that followed. Untold millions have died here and abroad in the nearly two decades AZT has been under patent, making this a solemn day and shameful reminder that the unbridled quest for greater and greater profits has had a cost that can be measured in human suffering.”

With the advent and widespread use of combined anti-retroviral therapy over the past few years, GSK and other drug companies created fixed-dose combinations (FDC) of AIDS drugs to provide added convenience for AIDS patients by combining two or more AIDS medications into one pill. Such combined formulations also have become an innovative way for the drug industry to extend the life of patent protection for certain drugs.

In GSK’s case, it created Combivir® a two drug combination consisting of AZT and 3TC (Epivir® or lamivudine), which provided patient convenience and also quickly became the most widely used and best selling AIDS therapy in the world. As a consequence GSK’s Combivir® drove down demand for its older single medication, AZT, making today’s end of patent protection for AZT far less significant. By some estimates, GSK sold only about $79 million of AZT in 2004, as compared with its 2004 sales of $1.4 billion for Combivir® and its other fixed dose therapy, Trizivir®.

“We strongly urge GSK to stand down on its patents for Combivir® and on all of its AIDS therapies in resource-poor countries throughout the world,” added AHF’s Weinstein. “AIDS therapies that cost upwards of $12,000 a year in the US can be obtained via generic versions for as little as $130 per patient per year - a difference that for many literally means life or death.”

AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s patent piracy lawsuit against the British drug giant over GSK’s patent for AZT was first filed in July 2002. The legal action challenges the legitimacy of GSK’s claims on the patent for AZT and other derivative AIDS drugs. (United States District Court for Central District of California, Western Division Case No. CV-03-02792 TJH ex).

AZT was first created with funding from the National Institutes of Health in 1964 as a possible cancer drug, but GSK (then Burroughs Wellcome) obtained the patent on the drug in the 1980s 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.

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I'll be back later to see if anymore good updates are available.
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