March 12, 2015 / 10:37 PM / 2 years ago

Johnson & Johnson sues Glaxo over allergy ads as spring nears

NEW YORK, March 12 (Reuters) - Johnson & Johnson sued rival drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline PLC on Thursday, alleging that Glaxo is trying to unlawfully grab market share with false advertising at the start of spring allergy season in the United States.

Two Johnson & Johnson units, McNeil-PPC Inc and McNeil Consumer Healthcare, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The lawsuit accuses Glaxo of making unsupported claims about its allergy nasal spray Flonase at the expense of McNeil's drugs Benadryl and Zyrtec.

A Glaxo spokeswoman said the company was reviewing the lawsuit.

Glaxo received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to sell Flonase over the counter in July, setting the stage for greater competition.

A Glaxo TV spot says Flonase outperforms the No. 1 allergy pill, which the ad does not name, and controls six allergy symptoms while the leading pill controls one, according to the lawsuit. Studies do not support the claims, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit says McNeil stands to be harmed "with the prime allergy sales season quickly approaching," and it asks for an injunction.

A Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman declined to comment.

The case is McNeil-PPC Inc and McNeil Consumer Healthcare v. GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare LP, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 15-1866. (Reporting by David Ingram; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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