Magazine article Drug Topics

More Rx Makers Settle Antitrust Pricing Charges

Magazine article Drug Topics

More Rx Makers Settle Antitrust Pricing Charges

Article excerpt

Only four drugmakers remain that would rather fight than switch. Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, G.D. Searle, and Forest Pharmaceuticals insist they are preparing to enter the Chicago courtroom of U.S. District Court Judge Charles Kocoras Sept. 14. If they do, they'll be defending themselves in a class-action lawsuit filed by community pharmacies that alleges the manufacturers conspired to fix prices. Five major wholesalers also are defendants in the antitrust case, which consolidated a variety of suits filed, beginning in 1993.

Just five days before the trial is set to begin, Kocoras will hear arguments on a proposed $350 million settlement with four other firms that would keep them away from a jury. Last month, Abbott Laboratories agreed to pay $64.1 million; Hoechst Marion Roussel (HMR), $149.5 million; Pharmacia & Upjohn, $102.5 million; and Rhone-Poulenc Rorer, $33.9 million to settle their part of the suit without admitting any wrongdoing. In addition, the companies will offer community pharmacies and buying groups that can affect market share the same type of discounts they make available to managed care organizations. This settlement mirrors one that Kocoras accepted two years ago between lawyers for the class and 11 Rx makers for $351 million.

"There was no conspiracy, and we believe we would have prevailed at trial," said Gerald P. Belle, president of HMR North America. "Our company has always acted ethically and lawfully in all of our actions with all of our customers, including retail pharmacies. …

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