Pfizer, Ranbaxy Lipitor Generic Anticompetitive Agreement Class Action

With the high prices of US drugs, a popular medicine can be an enormous moneymaker for a pharmaceutical company. But the patents that give those companies exclusivity have a limited term, after which generics or bioequivalents can come on the market, driving prices downwards. The complaint for this antitrust class action alleges that a number of companies conspired to permit Pfizer, Inc. to retain its exclusive hold on the market for Lipitor, thus causing purchasers to pay higher prices for the drug.

The Direct Purchaser Class for this action is all persons or entities in the US and its territories who bought Lipitor or its AB-rated bioequivalent generic products directly from any of the defendants in this case, at any time between June 28, 2011 and the time when the anticompetitive effects of defendants’ conduct cease.

Pfizer’s original patent for Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium) gave it exclusivity until March 24, 2010. At that time, generic versions of the drug would be allowed to enter the market.

In order to delay this, the complaint alleges, Pfizer entered into a “reverse payment” scheme with Ranbaxy, Inc. and its related companies. This gave Pfizer more than another year and a half of exclusivity.

How did this work? Ranbaxy was launching a different generic product (quinapril hydrochloride) that might have violated patents owned by Pfizer for its drug Accupril. In or around June 2008, Pfizer and Ranbaxy entered into what the complaint calls an illegal agreement.

According to the complaint, in this deal, Pfizer agreed to relinquish its Accupril-related claims against Ranbaxy and give it a $1 million payment; and in turn, Ranbaxy agreed not to bring to market a generic that would compete with Lipitor until November 30, 2011.

The complaint alleges that “the settlement of the Accupril litigation was not for fair value, was pretextual, and was, in reality, a payment of well in excess of $100 million from Pfizer to Ranbaxy and constituted a large, unexplained payment given to Ranbaxy in exchange for Ranbaxy’s agreement to delay the launch of generic Lipitor in the United States.”

Ranbaxy also had a first-to-file application in for a generic version of Lipitor that would give it 180-day exclusivity, effectively blocking other generic drug manufacturers from offering a generic version first.

As part of the agreement with Pfizer, the complaint alleges, Ranbaxy was not to relinquish this first-to-file advantage, contest the validity of certain other Pfizer patents, or further protest an application for the reissuance of another Pfizer patent that had been declared invalid.

The complaint alleges that the agreement between Pfizer and Ranbaxy violated US antitrust laws and forced purchasers of Lipitor to pay more than they should have had to for the drug.

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Antitrust

Most Recent Case Event

Pfizer, Ranbaxy Lipitor Generic Anticompetitive Agreement Complaint

May 22, 2020

With the high prices of US drugs, a popular medicine can be an enormous moneymaker for a pharmaceutical company. But the patents that give those companies exclusivity have a limited term, after which generics or bioequivalents can come on the market, driving prices downwards. The complaint for this antitrust class action alleges that a number of companies conspired to permit Pfizer, Inc. to retain its exclusive hold on the market for Lipitor, thus causing purchasers to pay higher prices for the drug.

Pfizer, Ranbaxy Lipitor Generic Anticompetitive Agreement Complaint

Case Event History

Pfizer, Ranbaxy Lipitor Generic Anticompetitive Agreement Complaint

May 22, 2020

With the high prices of US drugs, a popular medicine can be an enormous moneymaker for a pharmaceutical company. But the patents that give those companies exclusivity have a limited term, after which generics or bioequivalents can come on the market, driving prices downwards. The complaint for this antitrust class action alleges that a number of companies conspired to permit Pfizer, Inc. to retain its exclusive hold on the market for Lipitor, thus causing purchasers to pay higher prices for the drug.

Pfizer, Ranbaxy Lipitor Generic Anticompetitive Agreement Complaint
Tags: Antitrust, Drugs and Generics, Pharmaceuticals