GSK sued by inventors of Relenza anti-flu drug

GlaxoSmithKline IS being sued by the Australian inventors of its controversial flu treatment Relenza, who accuse the giant drug maker of failing to properly promote the product.

The Melbourne-based biotech group Biota, which licensed Relenza in 1990 to what was then Glaxo, says it has been driven to the courts after two years of fruitless negotiations with GSK. The product failed to live up to its early promise and had sales last year of less than £10m, despite being approved in 70 countries.

"Relenza was a breakthrough influenza drug that had great potential but it was effectively abandoned at birth," Biota's chief executive, Peter Molloy, said. The company says GSK breached the terms of its licensing deal by failing to launch Relenza in a number of countries, by dropping further studies that may have widened its use, and by not pursuing fully ways to improve the inhaler used for taking the drug. It is demanding unspecified damages, which could total up to $100m (£56m).

GSK said it was surprised by Biota's lawsuit but would not comment further.

The high hopes for Relenza began to falter when the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, the NHS's arbiter of value for money, ruled that the drug would only marginally improve the treatment of flu and should be prescribed only in very limited circumstances. It was a ruling that infuriated Sir Richard Sykes, then chairman of Glaxo Wellcome, so much that he threatened to move the company's headquarters to the US.

Biota is aggrieved that Relenza was sidelined after the merger of Glaxo Wellcome with SmithKline Beecham to create GSK in 2000. GSK has been arguing in private that it pulled applications to launch the drug as a prevention for flu after it became clear it would not get approval in the US.

Relenza was discovered by Biota scientists in 1989 and was the first in a new generation of anti-flu drugs, called neuraminidase inhibitors, which are effective against both major strains of influenza.

However, the fact that it has to be used with an inhaler put it at an immediate disadvantage to a rival pill from Roche, the Swiss pharmaceuticals giant.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam