Rivals Say Boniva Made False Claims

NEW YORK Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals and Sanofi-Aventis have sued Roche Pharmaceuticals and GlaxoSmithKline, alleging that advertising for the osteoporosis drug Boniva is false and misleading, according to P&G.

Boniva, marketed jointly by Roche and GSK, is a once-a-month osteoporosis pill launched last April. P&G and Sanofi jointly market a rival treatment, Actonel.

The plaintiffs specifically allege that the Boniva advertising wrongly claims that Boniva reduces the risk of non-spine fractures at rates comparable to other treatments. But “the Boniva label and clinical study data do not support these claims,” P&G said in a statement.

Roche did not immediately return calls for comment. “We have not received the complaint,” said GSK representative Mary Anne Rhyne. “[But] we feel our advertising has been truthful and accurate.”

The suit was filed yesterday in U.S. Federal District Court in the Southern District of New York.

The move is another indication that as the U.S. population ages, the osteoporosis category will become increasingly aggressive.

Boniva was launched as a direct threat to the DTC leader in the category, Merck’s Fosamax, which has $3.2 billion in sales.

Eli Lilly & Co.’s Evista is the third treatment currently on the market.

In the R&D pipeline and not yet approved for sale are Wyeth’s Bazedoxifene and Pfizer’s Oporia. Amgen has a chemical called AMG 162, also as-yet unapproved.