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US: Judge pushes pharma product-hopping suit forward

 |  December 4, 2014

A federal judge has allowed a pharmaceutical product-hopping lawsuit to move forward, forcing defendant Reckitt Benckiser to face allegations of antitrust violations.

The pharmaceutical company, which manufacturers a drug to treat opioid dependency, is accused of introducing “inconsequential changes” to the drug, changing it from a tablet placed under the tongue to a film placed under the tongue, in order to preserve the medicine’s exclusivity period.

Once that exclusivity period on the drug’s patent expires, the market is open for generic competition.

US District Judge Mitchell Goldberg ruled that while in general, the market benefits from the introduction of new products, the pharmaceutical industry is unique and, in this case, certain claims of antitrust violations are plausible. Judge Goldberg therefore ruled Wednesday to deny Reckitt Benckiser’s motion to dismiss.

The allegations accuse the company of so-called product-hopping.

”Although the issue of product-hopping is relatively novel,” Judge Goldberg said, “what is clear form the case law is that simply introducing a new product on the market, whether it is a superior product or not, does not, by itself, constitute exclusionary conduct.”

Full content: The Intelligencer

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