wants at least $1 billion from drugmakers who delay generics
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[March 29, 2014]
By David Ingram
WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The U.S. Federal
Trade Commission seeks a settlement of $1 billion or more from
pharmaceutical companies it has sued for delaying the sale of
cheaper medicines after patents on brand-name drugs may have
expired, an FTC official told a legal conference on Friday.
The antitrust agency alleges that the way drugmakers
settle patent-related lawsuits hurts consumers by making drugs more
expensive. In the settlements, makers of brand-name drugs pay
millions of dollars to generics companies while they delay putting
their products on the U.S. market.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the FTC may challenge the
deals in federal courts.
A panel moderator at the American Bar Association's spring antitrust
meeting asked Deborah Feinstein, the director of the FTC's Bureau of
Competition, what developments to expect in the coming year.
"My hope is that we get a billion-dollar settlement in one of the
patent-settlement, pay-for-delay cases," Feinstein responded, giving
no indication that any settlement was imminent. The FTC's
long-running lawsuits are not close to going to trial.
"In all truth, that is one of the biggest priorities we have," she
said. "The consumer harm there is extremely significant, and so we
have a tremendous amount of resources there and hope to come out
with a victory one way or another in those cases."
Defendants in the lawsuits include Solvay Pharmaceuticals Inc, owned
by AbbVie Inc; Actavis, previously Watson Pharmaceuticals; Paddock
Laboratories Inc, part of Perrigo Co; Par Pharmaceutical Companies
Inc; and Cephalon Inc, owned by Teva.
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Generic drugmakers like the "pay for delay" arrangements because
if they bring out their products before patent-infringement
litigation is over, they run the risk of paying triple damages on
sales if they are found to have infringed.
The FTC shares antitrust authority in the United States with the
U.S. Justice Department.
(Reporting by David Ingram; editing by Howard Goller and Alden
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