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If HIV patients and their insurers can win a court ruling that leads to lower drug prices, they might have Spider-Man to thank.

Plaintiffs leveled 137 pages of spectacular—if not altogether new—allegations against Gilead Sciences Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Japan Tobacco Inc. and Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen R&D Ireland on Tuesday. They accuse the companies of inflating the price of HIV meds through collusive licensing agreements, “crippling this nation’s ability to stop new HIV infections.”

Staley v. Gilead Sciences comes as political pressure is being applied on the U.S. government to “break” patent protection for Gilead’s Truvada medicine, and as the House of Representatives weighs drug pricing bills. But some of the same arguments in Staley were leveled against the same parties over the same drugs and licensing agreements a few years ago in the same Northern District of California. Judge William Alsup dismissed them in AIDS Healthcare Foundation v. Gilead Sciences, ruling that under U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit case law Gilead had no legal duty to market its most cutting-edge antiviral as a stand-alone product.

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Scott Graham

Scott Graham focuses on intellectual property and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. He writes ALM's Skilled in the Art IP briefing. Contact him at [email protected]

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