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Pfizer Settles Lipitor Antitrust Case for $93 Million

 |  February 15, 2024

Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant, has reached a settlement amounting to $93 million in response to antitrust claims lodged by wholesale drug distributors. These distributors accused Pfizer of colluding with Ranbaxy Laboratories of India to hinder the sales of cheaper generic versions of the popular cholesterol drug, Lipitor.

The agreement was unveiled by attorneys representing Lipitor purchasers, including entities such as Rochester Drug Co-Operative Inc and Drogueria Betances LLC of Puerto Rico. The disclosure occurred in a filing made on Wednesday in the U.S. court situated in Trenton, New Jersey. Notably, the distributors’ legal pursuit against Ranbaxy will persist despite this settlement, reported Reuters.

This settlement, which remains subject to judicial approval, arrives after over a decade of protracted litigation. Despite agreeing to the settlement, Pfizer has not admitted any liability. In a statement, the pharmaceutical giant refuted the allegations, asserting that they were “factually and legally without merit.” Pfizer maintained that the settlement was reached as it deemed it to be “fair, reasonable, and the best way to resolve this litigation.”

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There has been no immediate response from Sun Pharma, which acquired Ranbaxy in 2014, regarding this settlement. Lipitor, introduced by Pfizer in 1997, became a blockbuster drug, generating over $130 billion in sales within its initial 14 years on the market.

The distributors asserted that Pfizer engaged in fraudulent maneuvers to extend its patent exclusivity over Lipitor. Among their accusations were claims that Pfizer incentivized Ranbaxy to delay the introduction of a generic version of Lipitor and participated in spurious legal actions against Ranbaxy concerning the drug.

Legal representatives for the plaintiffs highlighted that the settlement would provide “immediate economic relief” to class members and mitigate the risks associated with ongoing litigation, potential appeals, and the absence of any recovery. They also indicated their intention to seek legal fees of approximately $31 million from the settlement fund.

The resolution of this long-standing legal battle marks a significant development in the pharmaceutical landscape, shedding light on the complexities and controversies surrounding patent rights and market competition within the industry.

Source: Reuters