Dublin pharma firm sued in NYC

Actavis plc is being sued by New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman over claims it is trying to block generic competition by swapping versions of its Namenda Alzheimer’s drug, a move he says is part of a growing trend in the pharmaceutical industry to maintain high prices.

Dublin pharma firm sued in NYC

The Dublin-based company’s plan to discontinue the immediate-release version of Namenda and switch patients to an extended-release version with patents expiring later violates state and US antitrust laws, Schneiderman said in a complaint filed yesterday in Manhattan federal court.

“We’re sending a clear message to all pharmaceutical companies: Prioritising profits over patients’ rights will not be tolerated,” he said in a statement.

Actavis is discontinuing Namenda IR in favour of a slow-release version of the drug ahead of patent expiration for its traditional pill in October 2015. The tactic is what some in the industry, including Actavis chief executive Brent Saunders, have called a “forced switch”, Schneiderman said.

Under such a manoeuvre, a pharmaceutical company that sells a medicine facing imminent generic competition withdraws its drug from the market, forcing patients to switch to a different form and impeding the entry of low-cost generics. The practice is illegal, Schneiderman said.

Representatives of Actavis didn’t comment last night.

It is probable patients will remain on the new version of the drug even after generics of the traditional pill hit the market because of the difficulty switching back, according to the complaint, which also claims that “Actavis is gaming the regulatory system”.


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