Pfizer agrees to pay $93 million to settle Lipitor antitrust lawsuit


By Mike Scarcella

(Reuters) – Pfizer has agreed to pay $93 million to settle antitrust claims by wholesale drug distributors that accused it of conspiring with India’s Ranbaxy Laboratories to delay sales of less expensive, generic versions of the cholesterol drug Lipitor.

Attorneys for Lipitor purchasers including Rochester Drug Co-Operative Inc and Puerto Rico’s Drogueria Betances LLC disclosed the agreement in a filing on Wednesday in U.S. court in Trenton, New Jersey.

The distributors’ case will continue against Ranbaxy, the attorneys filing said.

The proposed settlement, which requires a judge’s approval, comes after more than a decade of litigation. Pfizer did not admit liability.

Pfizer in a statement called the allegations “factually and legally without merit.” It said the settlement was “fair, reasonable and the best way to resolve this litigation.”

A representative for Sun Pharma, which acquired Ranbaxy in 2014, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Pfizer introduced Lipitor in 1997, and the drug drove more than $130 billion in sales during its first 14 years on the market.

The pharma distributors claimed Pfizer fraudulently sought to extend its patent rights over Lipitor. They accused the company of paying Ranbaxy to delay introducing a generic version of Lipitor and engaging in sham litigation with Ranbaxy over the drug.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs said the settlement provides “immediate economic relief” to class members and avoids the risk of continued litigation, potential appeals and no recovery. They said they will seek up to about $31 million in legal fees from the settlement fund.

The case is In re: Lipitor Antitrust Litigation, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, No. 3:12-cv-02389-PGS-JBD.

(Reporting by Mike Scarcella; Editing by Christopher Cushing)



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