On Tuesday, CVS Caremark Corp and Rite Aid Corp filed an antitrust lawsuit against Pfizer Inc and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd accusing them of conspiring to keep generic versions of antidepressant Effexor XR off store shelves. The lawsuit comes over the delays by Pfizer in launching generic versions of Effexor XR. Six months back, other large retailers had also filed an antitrust lawsuit against Pfizer on similar claims.
In the lawsuit filed at the federal court in Trenton, New Jersey, CVS and Rite Aid alleged that the Wyeth unit of Pfizer was scheming to block generic versions of the drug for at least two years, though the marketing rights to the original compound expired in June 2008.
The plaintiffs said that the Wyeth unit of Pfizer continued to do this by engaging in sham litigation against Teva and 16 other companies, and by conspiring with Teva to keep generic equivalents of the antidepressant from entering the market and prolong Teva’s generic exclusivity rights. The suit alleged that during this period the U.S. sales of Effexor XR topped $2.5 billion.
The lawsuit mentioned that the “Plaintiffs have sustained substantial injuries to their business and property in the form of overcharges.”
While CVS and Rite Aid are seeking triple damages and other remedies, similar claims have been made in the same court in December by Walgreen Co, Kroger Co, Safeway Inc, Supervalu Inc and HEB Grocery Co earlier.
Pfizer’s global sales of the popular antidepressant drug totaled $129 million from January to March, though sales fell due to generic competition.
The case is Rite Aid Corp et al. v. Wyeth Inc et al, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, No. 12-03523.