10 July 2014Americas

Pfizer facing three Celebrex antitrust cases

Pfizer is facing three class actions that allege the pharmaceutical company improperly obtained a patent covering its arthritis drug Celebrex (celecoxib) and used it to force generic drug makers into settlements that delay their entry into the market, Law360 has reported.

The plaintiffs are direct Celebrex purchaser American Sales Company, and two employee benefit plan administrators representing end-payers, the AFSCME Health and Welfare Fund and the United Food and Commercial Workers Unions and Employers Midwest Health Benefits Fund.

The cases were filed at the US District Court for the District of Virginia last week, between July 1 and July 3.

A spokesperson for Pfizer told LSIPR: “Pfizer is confident that the procurement and enforcement of its Celebrex patents were at all times proper and lawful. The patent settlements in question involved no ‘reverse payment’ and were submitted, as required, to the FTC [Federal Trade Commission]. Pfizer believes this lawsuit has no merit and should be dismissed.”

Pfizer was accused of anti-competitive behaviour earlier this year, when in February Australia’s antitrust regulator said the pharmaceutical company’s Australian arm was abusing its power by offering pharmacies discounts and rebates on its blockbuster drug Lipitor (atorvastatin) if they bought a 12-month supply.

It had started making these offers as the main patent covering the drug expired in 2012.

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