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Shire takes fight to Allergan over dry-eye drug

Published on 04/10/17 at 08:20am

It’s not long since Allergan was in the headlines over its dry-eye drug, Restasis, after an eye-catching attempt to avoid patent challenges through a Native American tribe. Now, the same drug is back in the spotlight as Shire sues Allergan claiming the latter company has breached antitrust laws.

Shire is trying to make headway in the dry-eye market with its rival drug Xiidra, but is crying foul over Allergan’s methods of blocking its product’s route to market. As a result, Shire has launched a lawsuit in a federal court in New Jersey in attempt to overturn contracts signed between Allergan and Medicare providers.

As part of the lawsuit, Reuters reports the company’s lawsuit as alleging: “Quite simply, Allergan has and will continue to use bundled discounts, exclusive dealing, coercion and interference to unlawfully ‘block’ Shire from competing with it, and to maintain its monopoly in the Part D market at all costs”.

Shire claims that its own product is superior to the Allergan’s product, which dominates 90% of the market. On Allergan’s part, it has defended its practices by stating that they were reached in discussions with Medicare Part D insurers and that its product has maintained its market position through virtue of out-competing Xiidra on pricing.

Regardless of its defence, Allergan will not welcome another lawsuit against its Restasis – a drug that it is desperate to protect. The treatment brought in $1.49 billion for the company in 2016 and is its highest selling drug behind Botox.

Only last month, it struck a deal with Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe to transfer the rights to the drug to community and then license the drug back for $15 million per year. This was done to protect the drug from an inter partes review, looking at patent challenges to the drug – thereby keeping the drug out of court. A move that may be successful in the short-term, but is already causing a stir as US senators have begun to call out the deal as anticompetitive.

Ben Hargreaves

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