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.
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