Abbott: Kaletra HIV med 'clobbered' by rivals

You might say Abbott Laboratories is using the "me too" defense in a HIV-drug pricing lawsuit. GlaxoSmithKline and some drug retailers sued Abbott after it more than quadrupled the price of its AIDS drug Norvir, which GSK uses in combination HIV products. The drugmaker and its co-plaintiffs said Abbott meant to quash competition for its own combo med Kaletra, which also contains Norvir.

The theory was that the higher Norvir cost would push up GSK's product price, giving Abbott a pricing advantage on Kaletra--and a chance to grab market share from competitors. The plaintiffs have asked for $4.5 billion in damages. Yes, that's "billion." GSK alone says it lost $570 million in profits on its combo drug Lexiva.

But an Abbott lawyer now says that if Kaletra rivals have suffered, they're not alone. "Kaletra has gotten completely clobbered, completely clobbered, it is no longer No. 1," said Jim Hurst in opening arguments in a California federal court. "Kaletra has no power to exclude competition, it's more like the competition has the power to exclude Kaletra."

According to Bloomberg, Kaletra's sales did decline last year. But only by eight percent, to $1.26 billion.

- read the Bloomberg news