The California-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation announced on Thursday that the organization will file a class-action lawsuit against pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline in South Africa on behalf of people who died of AIDS-related complications because they could not afford antiretroviral treatments. The move is the latest in an ongoing battle between AHF and Glaxo over the pricing of its anti-HIV medications, which has included attempts to revoke the patents on several Glaxo anti-HIV drugs. The decision to file the South African lawsuit was bolstered by a decision in October by South Africa's Competition Commission that Glaxo and Boehringer Ingelheim violate the country's competition act by charging too much for their drugs and by not allowing generic firms to make cheap copies of their medications.
AHF, which will be joined in the lawsuit by South African group AIDS Therapeutic Treatment Now, will seek the "awarding of damages by the courts to patients or dependents who lost breadwinners to AIDS, who because of excessive pricing by Glaxo, were not able to access treatment," according to an AHF statement. But AHF also said it would drop the lawsuit if Glaxo established a $150 million fund to provide free anti-HIV drugs in South Africa. Glaxo spokeswoman Vicki Ehrich said the company will make a decision on whether to establish the fund or challenge the lawsuit by November 28.