GSK Lawsuit Claims Rivals Are Using Stolen Secrets

By Foley, Stephen | The Independent (London, England), August 24, 2002 | Go to article overview
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GSK Lawsuit Claims Rivals Are Using Stolen Secrets


Foley, Stephen, The Independent (London, England)


A TALE of a stolen phial of bacteria, a disloyal drugs company employee and a 14-year hunt for evidence of industrial skulduggery looks set to be told in a US courtroom, after GlaxoSmithKline launched a multimillion- dollar lawsuit against rivals that it claims are using its trade secrets.

GSK is alleging that four drugmakers are using secrets stolen and sold by a former employee in 1988 as they develop copycat versions of its top-selling antibiotic, Augmentin. GSK claims it has developed a fool- proof test that shows its "S clavuligerus" culture is being used by companies to produce generic Augmentin, a treatment for chest and ear infections.

But the rivals insist GSK has launched a spurious legal action to try to scare them from the market and protect Augmentin's pounds 1.4bn of annual sales.

In legal and regulatory filings in the United States, GSK says that Biochemie and Geneva, two subsidiaries of the Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Novartis, and two other generics manufacturers should be barred from selling their products in the US, the world's most lucrative pharmaceuticals market.

The filings claim: "It is now clear that Biochemie acquired its production strain of S clavuligerus culture from a third party and knew or should have known that the culture it acquired had been stolen."

The filings are the latest twist in GSK's long legal fight to keep copycat Augmentin from the US market.

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