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Pfizer Agrees to $93 Million Settlement in Antitrust Suit Over Lipitor

 |  February 18, 2024

Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant, has agreed to settle an antitrust suit to the tune of $93 million with wholesale drug distributors. The suit accused Pfizer of collaborating with India-based Ranbaxy Laboratories to impede the release of generic versions of Lipitor, as reported by Reuters on Thursday.

The agreement came to light as attorneys representing the drug purchasers disclosed the settlement in a U.S. court in New Jersey. However, the litigation against Ranbaxy, which was acquired by Sun Pharma in 2015, is set to continue. The settlement awaits the approval of a judge before it becomes official.

A Pfizer spokesperson, in an email to BioSpace, asserted, “Pfizer firmly believes that all claims that have been or are asserted against Pfizer in this case are factually and legally without merit.” The spokesperson clarified that Pfizer’s decision to settle was motivated by the extensive duration of the litigation, spanning over 12 years, and deemed the proposed class settlement as fair, reasonable, and the most effective means to resolve the dispute. Notably, Pfizer does not admit to any liability or wrongdoing under the terms of the settlement.

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The legal saga dates back to 2012 when Pfizer and Ranbaxy were initially sued, alleging collusion in an antitrust scheme following the expiration of the Lipitor patent. The lawsuit accused the companies of obstructing the entry of generic cholesterol medication into the market.

Plaintiffs in the case contended that Pfizer violated federal antitrust laws by employing Lipitor-related patents to hinder generic competition. The suit further alleged that Pfizer paid Ranbaxy to settle infringement disputes and delay the introduction of competing products.

According to legal filings, the settlement is seen as providing economic relief and a means to circumvent further litigation actions. Additionally, the settlement includes provisions for seeking $31 million in legal fees.

The resolution of this protracted legal dispute underscores the complexities and challenges within the pharmaceutical industry, particularly concerning patent protection and market competition. As the settlement awaits final approval, stakeholders await the conclusion of this chapter in the ongoing battle over drug pricing and market access.

Source: Biospace