States' price-fixing case against generic pharma companies trimmed –

Science & Technology

Pfizer/Handout via REUTERS
(Reuters) – A Pennsylvania federal judge on Tuesday curbed the reach of an antitrust case that dozens of states brought against generic drugmakers, ruling that New York, California, Connecticut and other plaintiffs were barred from pursuing alleged ill-gotten gains as a penalty.
U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe's order said "disgorgement" of profit derived from alleged unlawful conduct was not an available remedy under the Clayton Act federal antitrust law.
The 49 plaintiffs, including Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, are suing more than a dozen pharmaceutical companies alleging a conspiracy to restrict competition in the market for 15 generic drugs used to treat glaucoma, high blood pressure, asthma and other conditions. An amended complaint was filed in 2018.
The defendants include Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc, the drugmaker that is now Viatris Inc; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc; Par Pharmaceutical Cos Inc; and Sandoz Inc. The defendants and others have denied liability.
The pharmaceutical companies had asked Rufe to dismiss the states' disgorgement claim and all federal claims on the basis that the plaintiffs did not have legal standing to pursue their case. Defense lawyers had argued the states "have not alleged sufficient facts" to seek relief under federal antitrust law on behalf of their citizens.
Rufe rejected the companies' bid to dismiss the states' claim for an injunction preventing the drugmakers from "continuing their illegal conduct."
The states have alleged defendant pharmaceutical companies engaged in anticompetitive practices that increased the price of drugs and limited their availability.
Representatives from the companies and their lawyers on Wednesday either did not comment or did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
Defense liaison counsel Chul Pak, an antitrust partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
A spokesperson for the Connecticut attorney general's office said Rufe's decision only applied to federal disgorgement claims and not state-law allegations seeking damages, disgorgement and other relief. "Our case is strong, and this ruling does not affect any of those claims," Elizabeth Benton said.
The states' case is a piece of a larger multidistrict antitrust action.
A status conference in the litigation is scheduled for Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The case is In re Generic Pharmaceutical Pricing Antitrust Litigation, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, MDL No. 2724.
Read more:
California ordered to pay $80K fee sanction in drug antitrust MDL
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