FTC and Plaintiff States v. Mallilnckrodt Ard Inc. (formerly Questcor), No. 1:17-cv-00120 (D.D.C. Jan. 18, 2017)
Four states and the FTC reached a $100 million settlement with Mallinckrodt plc and its US subsidiary, formerly known as Questcor Pharmaceuticals, Inc. resolving a lawsuit accusing Questcor of monopolizing the market for Achthar, the only adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) based therapeutic drug sold in the United States. ACTH is used as a last resort to treat infantile spasms and multiple sclerosis. Questcor allegedly blocked competition for Acthar by disrupting the bidding process and acquiring the U.S. rights for Synacthen Depot, the only other ACTH based drug sold in the world. In 2001, Questcor bought the rights to Acthar and increased the price of it by 85,000 percent, charging over $34,000 for a vial of the drug that used to cost $40 per vial. In 2012, Novartis Pharma A.G sold the U.S. rights of Synacthen, Achthar’s only competitor. The complaint alleges that three other companies had all conducted due diligence and submitted formal offers for Synacthen with plans to develop and launch Synacthen in the United States in direct competition with Questcor. However, perceiving the threat to its U.S. monopoly if a rival drug company purchased the assets, Questcor stepped in to outbid the three other companies, offering Novartis $135 million in guaranteed payments with only vague plans for Synacthen and after very limited due diligence. Through the acquisition, Questcor sought to extinguish the most likely challenges to its Acthar monopoly. According to the complaint, this allowed Questcor to continue charging over $34,000 per vial for H.P. Acthar Gel. In addition to paying $100 million in disgorgement, Under the settlement, Mallinckrodt will pay $100 million. The company will also be required to license a competitor to the rights it acquired from Novartis to commercialize and develop Synacthen in the United States, including the Synacthen trademark, along with clinical trial data and certain intellectual property related to manufacturing and formulation. Mallinckrodt is also prohibited from taking actions that would interfere with clinical trials or clinical plans for Synacthen.
Plaintiff states alleged that the makers of Suboxone, a drug used to treat opioid addiction, engaged in a scheme to block generic competitors and raise prices. Specifically, they are conspiring to wtich Suboxone from a tablet version to a flim in order to prevent or delay generic entry. The states allege that the manufacturers engaged in “product hopping” in which a company makes slight changes to its product to extend patent protections and prvent generic alternatives. The complaint was filed under seal.
Twenty states filed a federal lawsuit against six generic drug manufacturers, alleging that they entered into long-running and well coordinated illegal conspiracies in order to unreasonably restrain trade, artificially inflate and manipulate prices and reduce competition in the United States for two drugs: doxycycline hyclate delayed release, an antibiotic, and glyburide, an oral diabetes medication. The lawsuit was filed under seal to avoid compromising a continuing investigation. In the complaint, the states allege that the misconduct was conceived and carried out by senior drug company executives and their marketing and sales executives. The complaint further alleges that the defendants routinely coordinated their schemes through direct interaction with their competitors at industry trade shows, customer conferences and other events, as well as through direct email, phone and text message communications. The states further allege that the drug companies knew that their conduct was illegal and made efforts to avoid communicating with each other in writing or, in some instances, to delete written communications after becoming aware of the investigation. The states allege the anticompetitive conduct, including price-fixing and price maintenance, market allocation and other anticompetitive acts, caused significant, harmful and continuing effects in the country’s healthcare system. The states sought an injunction to prevent the companies from engaging in illegal, anticompetitive behavior and also sought equitable relief, including disgorgement. An additional 20 states joined the complaint in March 2017.
In May 2015, the FTC settled a “pay-for-delay” suit against Cephalon for injunctive relief and $1.2 billion, which was paid into an escrow account. The FTC settlement allowed for those escrow funds to be distributed for settlement of certain related cases and government investigations. In August 2016, forty-eight states filed suit in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against Cephalon alleging anticompetitive conduct by Cephalon to protect the profits it earned from having a patent-protected monopoly on the sale of its landmark drug, Provigil. According to the complaint, Cephalon’s conduct delayed generic versions of Provigil from entering the market for several years. The complaint alleged that as patent and regulatory barriers that prevented generic competition to Provigil neared expiration, Cephalon intentionally defrauded the Patent and Trademark Office to secure an additional patent, which a court subsequently deemed invalid and unenforceable. Before it was declared invalid, Cephalon was able to use the patent to delay generic competition for nearly six additional years by filing patent infringement lawsuits. Cephalon settled those lawsuits by paying competitors to delay sale of their generic versions of Provigil until at least April 2012. Consumers, states, and others paid millions more for Provigil than they would have had generic versions of the drug launched by early 2006, as expected. A settlement was filed with the complaint, which includes $35 million for distribution to consumers who bought Provigil.
The FTC and states alleged that the companies had entered into a “pay-for-delay” arrangement, whereby Perrigo paid Alpharma to withdraw its generic version from the market for Children’t ibuprofen.According to the complaint, in June 1998, Perrigo and Alpharma signed an agreement allocating to Perrigo the sale of OTC children’s liquid ibuprofen for seven years. In exchange for agreeing not to compete, Alpharma received an up-front payment and a royalty on Perrigo’s sales of children’s liquid ibuprofen. The FTC received $6.25 million to compensate injured consumers. The states received $1.5 million in lieu of civil penalties. the parties were enjoined from future agreements.
National Express, a national provider of school bus services, sought to acquire Petermann Partners. After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division and the Washington and Texas Attorneys General, the parties agreed with USDOJ to sell eight school bus transportation contracts in the states of Texas and Washington to Student Transportation of America Inc. (STA). Under a separate consent decree with the state of Washington, the parties also agreed to notify the Attorney General of Washington before any future acquisitions for the next ten years. The parties also agreed not to take any action to impede a successful bidder on a contract from obtaining leased depot and repair facilities.
33 states investigated “pay for delay” allegations relating to DDAVP, a drug used to alleviate bed-wetting. States alleged that Aventis, holder of the patent for the medication, engaged in a scheme to delay the regulatory approval and sale of a generic version of DDAVP, in violation of state and federal antitrust law. States and defendants entered into a settlement under which states received $3.45 million, not as a civil penalty and defendants did not admit guilt.
AT&T sought to acquire T-Mobile. The transaction would have combined two of the only four wireless carriers with nationwide networks. US DOJ and six states filed suite to block the merger. The parties abandoned the merger three months later.
USDOJ and five states challenged the joint venture between Comcast and NBC Universal, alleging that it would harm competition in cable programming, with Comcast controlling NBC and NBCU programming. The parties reached a settlement, and the FCC also reached a separate settlement with Comcast and NBC. The settlements impose a number of restrictions and limitations on the merger to ensure that competing distributors have fair access to NBC and NBCU content. The settlements also address several areas of the joint venture’s operations. The DOJ and states’ settlement particularly focuses on requiring Comcast/NBC to make content available to online video distributors; requires NBC to relinquish all management rights in connection with Hulu.com, a popular video website; and prohibits Comcast from retaliating against content providers who sell to online distributors, entering into exclusive agreements that might limit access to programs, and slowing broadband signals when broadband customers view non-Comcast content.
Plaintiff state filed an antitrust action against several major technology companies for illegally fixing prices for liquid crystal display (“LCD”) screens used in computers, televisions, and cell phones. The lawsuit seeks to recover damages suffered from 1998 to 2006 by Washington and other public purchasers that purchased computers and other goods containing the price-fixed screens. The suit seeks damages, restitution, and civil penalties on behalf of the state and as parens patriae for state consumers.
After decisions declining to allow the defendants to remove the cases to federal court under CAFA, and affirming the state’s jurisdiction over foreign corporations, the state reached settlements with the defendants totalling $63 million. Defendants also agreed to future monitoring and to implementing antitrust compliance programs.