Glaxo drops appeal in Aids drug pricing case

A landmark legal complaint against British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) over its Aids drug pricing and policies in South Africa will proceed after GSK dropped its public and repeated vows to appeal a decision allowing the case to go forward, according to AidsHealthcare Foundation (AHF).

Instead, GSK simply filed a required legal response to the complaint, AHF said.

The complaint was filed with South Africa’s Competition Tribunal in August by AHF, the US’ largest Aids organisation and several other South African Aids advocates.

AHF operates the ‘Ithembalabantu’ (Zulu for people’s hope) clinic, a free Aids treatment clinic in Umlazi Township, KwaZulu Natal in partnership with the Network of Aids Communities of South Africa (NetCom SA) a local non-government organisation.

In the complaint, AHF and others allege that GSK has charged excessive prices for Aids drugs to the detriment of South Africans with HIV/Aids and in violation of the Competition Act.

The complaint was originally filed with the Competition Commission in January 2003.

The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) had lodged a similar complaint with the Competition Commission against GSK during 2002.

The Competition Commission initially decided to refer that complaint, as well as the AHF complaint, to the Competition Tribunal. During December 2003, TAC and GSK concluded a settlement endorsed by the Competition Commission.

However, AHF was not a party to that settlement.

Earlier this year, the Competition Tribunal of South Africa agreed to hear the complaint, which was filed by individual South Africans and AHF.

The Tribunal also ordered GSK to pay AHF’s legal costs.

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