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AbbVie ordered to pay $448m over generic delays

Published on 02/07/18 at 11:36am

A US Judge has ordered pharmaceutical company AbbVie to pay $448 million after determining that the company had used sham litigation in an effort to delay generic versions of the testosterone replacement drug AndroGel from getting to market.

The ruling made in Philadelphia by US District Judge Harvey Bartle acted to conclude an anti-trust lawsuit first filed in 2014 by the Federal Trade Commission against AbbVie and its partner Besins Healthcare. The decision followed a non-jury trial in which the capabilities of the FTC were put to test.

The FTC had first accused Chicago-based AbbVie and their partner Besins of filing baseless patent infringement lawsuits against competitors in 2014. The baseless lawsuits which were intended to delay the launch of generic products were deemed illegal by Judge Bartle who ordered AbbVie and their partners to pay the $448 million sum.

While the FTC had originally sought $1.35 billion,  it noted that the eventual award of  would be the largest monetary  payout in any antitrust litigation case in US legal history. The case has been viewed as a demonstration of the FTC’s strength in fighting unethical practices. As stated by FTC Chairman Joe Simmons: “This decision is a double victory, both for patients who rely on Androgel and for competition more broadly. It sends a clear signal that pharmaceutical companies can't use baseless litigation to forestall competition from low-cost generics.”

As ordered by Judge Bartle, the liability for the cost of the award will be apportioned between Abbvie and Besins in accordance with their agreed royalty rates. Nevertheless AbbVie has announced their intent to appeal the ruling.  As stated by AbbVie spokeswoman Toni Haubert: “We are disappointed by the ruling. We believe our conduct was lawful and the damages award is improper. We intend to appeal.”

Louis Goss

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