U.S. gay rights ruling won't be appealed, company says

SAN FRANCISCO, March 10 Mon Mar 10, 2014 7:17pm EDT

SAN FRANCISCO, March 10 (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court ruling that significantly boosted gay rights will stand, as a pharmaceutical company involved in the case said on Monday that it would not appeal.

Earlier this year the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco found that a gay man was improperly excluded from jury service because of his sexual orientation, and ordered a new trial for GlaxoSmithKline Plc against AbbVie, an Abbott Laboratories spinoff.

The ruling heightened constitutional protections that judges in several Western states must now consider when evaluating laws that curtail gay rights. Last month, Nevada's attorney general said she would no longer defend that state's gay marriage ban in court, citing the changed legal landscape resulting from the Glaxo decision.

The deadline for AbbVie to seek 9th Circuit reconsideration passed last week, and an AbbVie representative on Monday said the company would not appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The case involved Abbott's pricing of HIV medications, a contentious issue in the gay community. Glaxo accused Abbott of improperly increasing the price of one drug, Norvir, to help it preserve sales growth of one of its other HIV blockbusters, Kaletra.

Norvir plays a key role in AIDS-fighting cocktails because it can boost the effectiveness of other drugs. Glaxo accused Abbott of raising Norvir's price by 400 percent in 2003, as part of an effort to harm competitors whose drugs were dependent on being used in combination with Norvir.

Glaxo had sought $571 million, but after a four-week trial came away with only a $3.5 million jury award.

The case in the 9th Circuit is Smithkline Beecham Corp dba GlaxoSmithKline vs. Abbott Laboratories, 11-17357.

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