* Weighs in on antitrust suit against Teva, Pfizer's Wyeth
* Offers assessment in friends-of-court brief
Aug 13 The Federal Trade Commission said makers
of branded drugs that settle patent challenges by promising not
to launch their own generic alternatives are using such
agreements to delay generic competition.
In a friend-of-the-court brief, the regulatory agency said
such patent settlements in which drug companies agree not to
launch their own authorized generic versions are a way of paying
a generic rival to delay their entry into the market.
The assessment came as a federal court in New Jersey that
oversees many lawsuits against drug companies weighs a private
antitrust challenge to such an agreement between Pfizer Inc's
Wyeth unit and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd
, the world's largest generic drug maker.
"Empirical evidence confirms what the pharmaceutical
industry has long understood: that a no-(authorized generic)
commitment provides a convenient method for branded drug firms
to pay generic patent challengers for agreeing to delay entry,"
the agency said in the proposed friend-of-the-court brief filed
A court should "carefully consider the economic realities of
no-AG commitments and their impact on consumers," it added.
The FTC comments were made in antitrust litigation by
drugstore firms CVS Caremark Corp and Rite Aid Corp
accusing Pfizer and Teva of conspiring to keep generic
versions of the popular antidepressant Effexor XR off store
Pfizer's Wyeth subsidiary said in a statement its settlement
agreement with Teva was proper, allowing the entry of generic
Effexor XR seven years before its patent expired. The FTC did
not express any concerns about the settlement when it originally
reviewed the agreement, the company said.
Teva believes the lawsuit is without merit and has filed a
motion to dismiss it, a Teva spokeswoman said.
Walgreen Co, Kroger Co, Safeway Inc,
Supervalu Inc and HEB Grocery Co made similar claims in
a lawsuit filed in the same court in December.
The judge presiding over the Effexor case had asked for
briefings to assess how the case was affected by a recent ruling
by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that payments by a
branded drugmaker to a potential generic rival can be "evidence
of an unreasonable restraint of trade" if they keep generic
drugs off the market.