Generic Lipitor Lawsuit Over Antitrust Claims Dismissed

A federal judge has dismissed an antitrust lawsuit filed against Pfizer and Ranbaxy Laboratories over the alleged delayed release of a generic version of Lipitor, which is one of the most popular medications in the U.S.

The lawsuit alleged that the drug manufacturers conspired to delay generic Lipitor to maximize profits.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Peter Sheridan rejected the claims, dismissing the generic Lipitor lawsuit brought by retailers and distributors for a second time.

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Plaintiffs claimed that in 2008, the drug makers reached a settlement over a patent lawsuit filed by Pfizer against Ranbaxy, which effectively delayed the release of the generic equivalent of the blockbuster cholesterol drug until November 2011.

In recent years, the government and numerous plaintiffs have gone after drug companies for so-called “pay to delay” schemes, suggesting that brand name drug makers file frivolous patent infringement lawsuits for the purpose of reaching settlements where they pay off the generic drug manufacturer to wait a few years before releasing the cheaper competitor, causing consumers to pay substantially higher prices for the brand-name medication.

Lipitor (atorvastatin) has been used by millions of Americans to help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Amid aggressive marketing by Pfizer, it became one of the most widely known brand-name medications in the world, generating more than $125 billion in sales before generic Lipitor equivalents became available in 2011.

Judge Sheridan found that in this case, plaintiffs failed to provide sufficient detail on how this particular incident was one of the “pay to delay” cases.

Lipitor Diabetes Lawsuits

The decision comes as Pfizer continues to face hundreds of Lipitor lawsuits filed on behalf of women throughout the United States who allege that they developed type 2 diabetes after using the medication.

The complaints allege that the drug maker placed their decision for profits before consumer safety by withholding important information about the potential link between side effects of Lipitor and diabetes, which can leave otherwise healthy women taking Lipitor as a preventative measure with far worse health complications than high cholesterol levels.

The litigation has arisen since the FDA required new diabetes warnings for Lipitor, Crestor and other related drugs in February 2012, indicating that users may experience a potential impact on blood sugar levels.

Plaintiffs claim that Pfizer knew or should have known about Lipitor diabetes problems for years, but withheld information to avoid a negative impact on sales and growth of the blockbuster medication.

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