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Third Circuit Reverses District Court’s Dismissals of Lipitor and Effexor Antitrust Cases

Posted: August 23, 2017
Practice Areas: Antitrust

On August 21, 2017, the Third Circuit issued an opinion reversing a District Court's dismissals of two antitrust cases: In re Lipitor Antitrust Litigation ("Lipitor") and In re Effexor XR Antitrust Litigation ("Effexor").

In Lipitor, Managing Shareholder David F. Sorensen serves as Co-Lead Counsel of a proposed class of direct purchasers in a suit concerning delayed entry of generic versions of Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium). Plaintiffs allege that defendant Pfizer, Inc. engaged in various anticompetitive practices to extend its monopoly on the blockbuster drug Lipitor, first acting alone and then with defendant Ranbaxy, Inc.

Plaintiffs allege that the scheme included perpetrating a fraud upon the United States Patent and Trademark Office to procure Patent No. 5,273,995, which Pfizer then wrongfully listed in the Food and Drug Administration's Orange Book. In addition, Pfizer:

  • Filed a sham Citizen Petition with the FDA;
  • Instituted objectively baseless patent litigation;
  • Entered into an anticompetitive and unlawful "reverse payment" patent settlement with Ranbaxy under cover of a non-justiciable lawsuit; and
  • Thwarted other generic's ability to challenge certain of Pfizer's patents.

In Effexor, Mr. Sorensen serves on the Executive Committee for a proposed class of direct purchasers in a suit concerning delayed entry of generic versions of Effexor (extended release venlafaxine hydrochloride).

Plaintiffs allege that defendant Wyeth, Inc. engaged in various anticompetitive practices to extend its monopoly on the blockbuster drug Effexor XR, including:

  • Procuring through fraud patents ostensibly covering the widely used antidepressant Effexor XR;
  • Using those patents to prosecute sham infringement litigation against would-be generic applicants to delay generic entry; and
  • Entering into an anticompetitive reverse payment settlement agreement with defendant Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.

Mr. Sorensen, with co-counsel, argued for the Plaintiffs in both cases.