Judge won't dismiss antitrust suits over GSK's Flonase

Did GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) resort to illegal shenanigans to protect its Flonase allergy drug from generic competition? That's the question posed by three antitrust lawsuits against the company. And it's a question GSK will have to attempt to answer; a federal judge just refused the company's request to dismiss the cases.

According to court documents, knockoff versions of Flonase would have hit the market two years earlier without GSK's interference. The company lobbied FDA to require Flonase generics to meet exacting standards for bioequivalence, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports, and the company filed several frivolous citizen petitions that helped delay the agency's action on generic apps. When the petitions didn't succeed, GSK sued a generics maker on the verge of launching a Flonase copy and won a temporary injunction, further delaying competition.

In their request for summary judgment, GSK lawyers argued that Flonase is immune from antitrust prosecution under the Noerr-Pennington legal doctrine. But District Judge Anita Brody said the plaintiffs--two classes of purchasers and the generics maker GSK sued over its Flonase copy--might actually be able to prove that the company's petitions to FDA were shams. In that case, the doctrine wouldn't apply.

- read the Post-Gazette story