* FTC says its investigation of settlement is closed
* Under settlement, Bayer received payments on Yasmin sales
By Diane Bartz
WASHINGTON, Oct 2 U.S. antitrust regulators
found no wrongdoing in a deal made four years ago between German
drugmaker Bayer AG and a division of Teva
Pharmaceuticals to end patent litigation over the
popular Yasmin birth control pill.
The Federal Trade Commission, in letters dated Sept. 26 but
posted on the agency's website this week, said it had reviewed
the matter and said, "No further action is warranted by the
commission at this time. Accordingly, the investigation has been
The FTC had been looking at the deal made by Bayer and Barr
Laboratories, which was purchased by Teva, in 2008 to settle
what was then a three-year fight over whether Barr infringed on
Bayer's "Yasmin" patent to make its own generic contraceptives.
Under the supply and licensing agreement, Barr paid Bayer a
fixed percentage of its revenues for the contraceptive, Bayer
said in its 2011 annual report.
The FTC had no comment beyond the letter. Spokespeople for
Bayer and Teva did not immediately respond to requests for
The FTC has battled what it calls "pay for delay"
settlements for years with mixed success. In the deals,
brand-name drug companies typically sue generic firms for
infringement and then settle, with the generic firm agreeing to
delay entry into the market.
The FTC has also pushed for legislation to ban the deals.
Bayer's main oral contraceptive brand Yasmin has also been
subject to controversy over health risks. Bayer earlier this
year agreed to pay a combined $400 million to settle almost one
third of about 6,000 legal claims in the United States that
Yasmin caused blood clots.
In April, the Food and Drug Administration added information
to the labels on Bayer's contraceptives Yaz and Yasmin, as well
as others, to show they may raise the risk of blood clots.
All common birth control pills increase a woman's chances of
getting potentially fatal blood clots, but the FDA said the
danger may be greater for more recent pills that contain the
synthetic hormone drospirenone.
Bayer is one of the largest players in the $8 billion global
market for hormonal birth-control pills.
Yaz, a reformulated version of Yasmin, remains one of the
U.S. top-selling contraceptives. Bayer had $374 million in Yaz
sales in 2010, according to data from IMS Health. Sales of Yaz
have slipped in recent years, after Teva and Watson
Pharmaceuticals launched generic versions.