An antitrust lawsuit filed in federal court in Mississippi claims that Wyeth Pharmaceuticals used fraudulently-obtained patents as part of a scheme to delay the introduction of generic versions of the anti-depressant Effexor XR. The class action lawsuit was filed last month in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. The Plaintiff is Uniondale Chemists, Inc., a retail pharmacy located in New York. It was alleged that Wyeth fraudulently kept generic versions of Effexor – also known as venlafaxine hydrochloride – from the market for at least two years after the company’s patent expired in June 2008.
The Complaint alleges further that Wyeth engaged in an “anticompetitive scheme to prevent and delay the approval and marketing of generic versions of Effexor XR.” The scheme allegedly included Wyeth “fraudulently procuring” three patents for extended release formulations of the drug, “wrongfully listing” those patents in the FDA Orange Book, and engaging in “serial sham litigation” to block generic drug companies from entering the market. Wyeth is now part of Pfizer Inc. Pfizer categorically denied the claims in the Complaint, and said that it would “vigorously” defend against the lawsuit brought by Uniondale Chemists.
In the lawsuit, the pharmacy seeks certification of a class of all individuals or entities in the U.S. who made purchases of Effexor directly from Wyeth between June 2008 and June 2011. The lawsuit alleges that members of the direct purchaser class suffered damages as the result of Wyeth’s “unlawful foreclosure of the market for extended release venlafaxine hydrochloride capsules.” According to the Complaint, between June 2008 and June 2010, U.S. retail sales of Effexor XR exceeded $4.5 billion.”
Source: Lawyers USA Online
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