SEATTLE – Attorney General Rob McKenna today announced that he and attorneys general from 19 states have filed a civil complaint against the manufacturer and marketers of TriCor, a drug prescribed to lower cholesterol. The states’ complaint filed today in U.S. District Court in Delaware accuses Abbott Laboratories, based in Illinois; Fournier Industrie Et Sante, of France; and subsidiary Laboratoires Fournier, S.A., with violating federal antitrust laws by delaying the availability of a cheaper generic versions of the medicine.
The suit also alleges the defendants violated Washington consumer protection and antitrust laws.
Fournier licenses Abbott to market TriCor, available in the U.S. since 1998. The brand-name drug uses fenofibrate to regulate cholesterol and triglycerides, the chemical form in which most fat exists in the body TriCor accounted for more than $1 billion of Abbott’s sales last year.
“Abbott and Fournier conspired to keep generic versions of their cholesterol-regulating drug, TriCor, off the market,” McKenna said. “As a result, patients, insurance companies and taxpayer-supported health programs paid higher prices while the companies illegally reaped the profits from their monopoly.”
McKenna noted that generic drugs generally cost 50-70 percent less than brand-name versions.
“We allege Fournier improperly obtained patents for minor changes to the form and dosage strength of TriCor,” McKenna said, “and Abbott and Fournier conspired to switch physicians to the newer form so generic versions of TriCor couldn’t be marketed against the previous formula. At the same time, they knowingly brought a series of baseless patent infringement lawsuits against two generic drug manufacturers.”
Abbott and Fournier eventually lost or dismissed all of the lawsuits, which were filed between 2000 and 2004 while the generic manufacturers were attempting to obtain Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approval. The states claim the companies knew that the infringement actions wouldn’t stand up and the litigation was merely a sham designed to block competition.
The states are seeking injunctive provisions to restrain Abbott and Fournier from any future anticompetitive practices. The complaint also asks for money to reimburse state government programs and consumers for unlawful overcharges on TriCor purchases and to cover attorneys’ fees and costs.
Assistant Attorney General Mark Brevard is representing Washington in the suit.
In addition to Washington, the following states signed the complaint: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and West Virginia.
- 30 –
Media Contact: Kristin Alexander, Media Relations Manager, (206) 464-6432