Bristol Myers Squibb, the company behind the blockbuster multiple myeloma treatment drug Pomalyst, is being accused of using fraudulent patents and other illegal tactics to preserve its monopoly and keep generic versions of the drug from entering the market.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, a health insurer, has filed a lawsuit against Bristol Myers Squibb on behalf of a proposed nationwide class of entities that paid for Pomalyst since October 2020. The lawsuit claims that the company violated U.S. antitrust law and had caused purchasers to overpay “by many hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars”.
Pomalyst is a top seller for Bristol Myers, netting the company nearly $3.5 billion out of its total 2021 revenue of $46.16 billion. The company had predicted in July that sales of the drug would decrease this year as more patients received it through a free patient assistance program.
According to the lawsuit, Bristol Myers allegedly fraudulently obtained multiple patents on the drug based on information already in the public domain but concealed from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The company then used those patents to file “sham lawsuits” against generic drugmakers to prevent them from launching their own versions of Pomalyst.
Bristol Myers reached settlements with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Aurobindo Pharma, Breckeridge Pharmaceutical, and Natco Pharma to delay the launch of generics until 2026. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana claims that while the terms of the agreements were kept secret, the incentives for the companies suggest they must have been “large, unjustified” payments in exchange for not launching generics, which is illegal.
Bristol Myers Squibb has yet to respond to the lawsuit. The company has declined to comment on the matter.