California's AIDS Healthcare Foundation last week amended a federal lawsuit it had filed earlier this year against drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline, claiming that the company lied to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office when it originally sought a patent for the anti-HIV drug AZT, Bloomberg News reports. The AIDS group filed suit against Glaxo in July, alleging that the company's prices on anti-HIV medications exorbitantly exceed licensing, manufacturing, and distribution costs and that medications AZT, 3TC, and Ziagen should be cheaper because components of the drugs were developed with federal research dollars. The lawsuit seeks $66 million in damages.
The amended complaint alleges that Glaxo's patent on AZT is invalid because the company did not invent the medication and did not conduct research demonstrating its efficacy in treating HIV infection. The foundation is focusing on AZT because it was the first anti-HIV medication and its pricing set pricing levels for every AIDS drug that followed. A spokesperson for Glaxo said the company never claimed to have invented AZT but did identify its use in the treatment of AIDS.