California court orders drug company executive to testify on AZT patent
GlaxoSmithKline CEO Jean-Pierre Garnier has been ordered by a U.S. district court magistrate judge in California to answer questions in a lawsuit brought against the company over its patent on the HIV antiretroviral drug Retrovir (AZT), AFX News reports. The lawsuit, filed by Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, seeks to block the company's patent, claiming that the drug was developed by the National Institutes of Health with federal money in 1964 as a cancer drug. Under U.S. law, drugs developed with federal money must be sold at a reasonable price, which can be set by the courts. The lawsuit claims that because AZT was developed with NIH funds, the medication--and combination pills Combivir and Trizivir, which include AZT--should be sold at far cheaper rates. Garnier answered questions in a deposition in January, but AHF attorneys pressed for more questioning.