Federal Judge Greenlights Class-Action Antitrust Lawsuit Against Allergan Subsidiaries for Loestrin 24, Minastrin and Generics


Damages estimated at $625 million, $1.9 billion after trebling, according to judge’s order

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – A federal judge yesterday greenlighted a class-action lawsuit against Allergan subsidiaries Warner Chilcott and Watson for overcharging direct purchasers for Loestrin 24, Minastrin and generic equivalents, according to Hagens Berman.

According to the order unsealed July 16, 2019, by Chief Judge William E. Smith of the District of Rhode Island, damages to the class are on the order of $625.2 million – $1.9 billion after automatic trebling under antitrust rules. The order was originally entered on July 2, 2019, and certifies the class of direct purchasers.

Trial in the class-action lawsuit is set for January 6, 2020 in Providence, Rhode Island.

“We are pleased that the court has allowed this case to continue and has given thoughtful consideration to the sheer scale of Warner Chilcott and Watson’s ruse,” said Tom Sobol, partner and executive member of Hagens Berman, representing the class of direct purchaser plaintiffs. “We look forward to proving our case at trial on behalf of direct purchasers.”

Judge Smith’s order also appointed Hagens Berman as co-lead counsel for the certified class of direct purchasers.

This multidistrict antitrust litigation pending in the District of Rhode Island alleges that Allergan subsidiary Warner Chilcott executives were involved in committing fraud on the Patent and Trademark Office in securing the patent for Loestrin 24. Warner Chilcott wrongfully accused generics of infringing the bogus patent, according to the suit.

The case states that Warner Chilcott settled that patent litigation by making an illegal reverse payment to then competitor Watson, and shortly before generic entry, Warner Chilcott launched a new product that was virtually identical to Loestrin 24, and subsequently withdrew Loestrin 24 from the market shortly before generics became available. The new iteration of Loestrin contained mint in the throw-away pills and an instruction to chew instead of swallow, the suit says.

Attorneys say Warner Chilcott sued would-be generic drug manufacturer competitors for breaching the questionable patent, and later conspiring with its would-be competitors to enter into anticompetitive “settlement” agreements that would keep generics off the market in exchange for a cut of Warner Chilcott’s profits. Warner Chilcott’s filing of these lawsuits, the suit states, triggered an automatic 30-month stay against any potential generic competitors receiving FDA approval, a procedural tactic that further enforced its alleged illegal monopoly.

The lawsuit seeks to recover threefold damages, costs of suit and reasonable attorneys’ fees for the injuries sustained by members of the class resulting from defendants’ conspiracy to restrain trade in the United States market for Loestrin 24, Minastrin and generic equivalents.

Find out more about the class-action lawsuit against Warner Chilcott and Watson.

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About Hagens Berman
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a consumer-rights class-action law firm with nine offices across the country. The firm’s tenacious drive for plaintiffs’ rights has earned it numerous national accolades, awards and titles of “Most Feared Plaintiff’s Firm,” and MVPs and Trailblazers of class-action law. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com. Follow the firm for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw.

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Case Timeline

08/08/17: Court Denies Motion to Dismiss

On Aug. 8, 2017, the court denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the direct purchaser plaintiffs’ complaint,  allowing the direct purchasers’ sham litigation, patent fraud, product hop, and reverse payment claims to continue. The court dismissed claims against the parent companies Allergan and Actavis. Discovery is ongoing. The court has set a trial date for March 2019. For more details, read Judge William E. Smith’s orders:

Aug. 8, 2017 Order
July 21, 2017 Order

04/14/16: Status Conference

The district court has set a status conference for Apr. 21, 2016.

02/22/16: First Circuit Reverses, Remands Loestrin 24 Case

The district court earlier held that it was legal for brand companies to pay generics to stay off the market as long as the payment didn’t take the form of cash, and dismissed the purchasers’ case. On Feb. 22, 2016, the First Circuit said “applesauce” (to quote Justice Scalia) and reversed the decision. The First Circuit joined the Third Circuit in recognizing that a payment is a payment is a payment, noting that restricting Actavis to cash-only payments would contradict Actavis. The Court also noted that it would improperly, “give drug manufacturers carte blanche to negotiate anticompetitive settlements so long as they involve non-cash reverse payments.”

04/09/15: Appellate Schedule Issued
Appellate briefing schedule issued.

09/04/14: Order Issued on Motion to Dismiss
The Court issued an order on defendants’ motions to dismiss.

06/27/14: Oral Arguments on Motion to Dismiss
The Court held oral argument on defendants’ motions to dismiss.

03/24/14: Opposition to Motion to Dismiss

Direct purchasers opposed defendant’s motion to dismiss.

11/08/13: HBSS Named Interim Co-Lead Counsel

Hagens Berman was named interim co-lead counsel for a proposed class of direct purchasers in the case.

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