Senior US District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith has granted approval for a $70 million settlement reached between a class of drug purchasers and pharmaceutical giants Merck and Glenmark Pharmaceuticals. This settlement arises from allegations of collusion between the two companies to delay the release of a generic version of Merck’s popular anti-cholesterol drug, Zetia, reported Reuters.
Judge Smith delivered her ruling on Wednesday, affirming that the settlement was “fair, reasonable, and adequate.” This decision allows the plaintiffs, which encompass various municipal employee benefit funds, to mitigate the risks associated with a protracted trial. The court’s approval effectively concludes a five-year antitrust litigation saga centered around Merck’s Zetia.
Additionally, Judge Smith has endorsed a request made by the plaintiffs’ legal representatives, which include Motley Rice and Miller Law, for a total of $23.3 million in fees. This amount represents one-third of the overall settlement, coupled with $3.9 million in costs. The judge determined that this request was not excessive and aligned with precedents from comparable cases within the pharmaceutical industry.
As of now, there has been no immediate response from Merck, Glenmark, or the plaintiffs’ legal representatives regarding this development.
The initial complaint, filed by the plaintiffs in 2018, alleged that both Merck and Glenmark violated antitrust laws as a result of a 2010 settlement. This settlement saw Merck relinquishing its patent infringement claims against Glenmark’s proposed generic version of Zetia, with Glenmark agreeing to postpone the release of their generic product for nearly five years.