Consumer Coalition Sues Bristol-Myers Over Generic Drug Access
A coalition of consumer groups has filed four lawsuits against Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., alleging that the company "illegally" attempted to extend the patent on its anti-anxiety drug BuSpar to keep a monopoly, the AP/Los Angeles Times reports. The lawsuits were filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan and in New York, Florida and Maine state courts. The Times reports that the day before Mylan Laboratories Inc. and Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. were set to launch a generic version of BuSpar last November, Bristol-Myers received a new patent from the FDA, preventing the two companies from introducing the generic version. Mylan took the case to U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., arguing that the new patent -- covering a "molecule patients create when they ingest BuSpar" -- did not prevent the sale of a generic BuSpar. The district court ruled in favor of Mylan and Watson, leading Bristol-Myers to appeal and the coalition to file the new lawsuit. In the new lawsuit, the coalition argues that Bristol-Myers violated antitrust law and seeks to bar the company from taking similar action in the future. With sales of $709 billion over the last 15 years, BuSpar is Bristol-Myers' fifth best-selling drug. The Prescription Access Litigation coalition, which filed the suits, includes the New York Statewide Senior Action Council, Citizen Action of New York, the Consumers for Affordable Health Care Foundation, Health Care for All and the Massachusetts Senior Action Council (AP/Los Angeles Times, 4/9).