* Retailers said they overpaid for Effexor XR
* Pfizer, Teva have denied claims in similar case
By Jonathan Stempel
June 12 CVS Caremark Corp and Rite Aid
Corp filed an antitrust lawsuit accusing Pfizer Inc
and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd
of conspiring to keep generic versions of the popular
antidepressant Effexor XR off store shelves.
The lawsuit escalates court battles over alleged delays in
the launching of generic versions of Effexor XR. It comes just
six months after several other large retailers filed an
antitrust lawsuit making similar claims.
In a complaint filed Tuesday with the federal court in
Trenton, New Jersey, CVS and Rite Aid accused Pfizer's Wyeth
unit of scheming to block generic versions of Effexor XR for at
least two years after its marketing rights to the original
compound lapsed in June 2008.
They said Wyeth did this by obtaining fraudulent patents,
engaging in sham litigation against Teva and 16 other generic
drug makers, and scheming with Teva to keep cheaper generic
equivalents off the market and prolong Teva's generic
exclusivity rights. U.S. sales of Effexor XR topped $2.5 billion
annually during this period, they said.
"Plaintiffs have sustained substantial injuries to their
business and property in the form of overcharges," the complaint
said. CVS and Rite Aid are seeking triple damages and other
remedies. Rite Aid's Brooks and Eckert units are also among the
Pfizer and Teva had no immediate comment. They have rejected
the claims in the December lawsuit, which was filed in the same
court by Walgreen Co, Kroger Co, Safeway Inc
, Supervalu Inc and HEB Grocery Co.
Effexor XR is used to treat depression and anxiety
disorders. Its chemical name is venlafaxine hydrochloride.
Pfizer's global sales of Effexor XR totaled $129 million
from January to March. Sales fell 37 percent from a year earlier
and have been declining because of generic competition.
Pfizer is based in New York; Wyeth has operations in
Madison, New Jersey; and Israel-based Teva has U.S. operations
in North Wales, Pennsylvania. CVS is based in Woonsocket, Rhode
Island, and Rite Aid in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.
The case is Rite Aid Corp et al. v. Wyeth Inc et al, U.S.
District Court, District of New Jersey, No. 12-03523.