FTC Attorneys to Appeal Decision in Schering-Plough Collusion Case
Attorneys at the Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday announced plans to appeal a decision issued last week by an FTC administrative law judge that dismissed antitrust charges against Schering-Plough Corp. and Upsher-Smith Laboratories, Bloomberg News/Philadelphia Inquirer reports (Rowley, Bloomberg News/Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/4). In the original complaint, FTC attorneys argued that a 1997 settlement between Schering-Plough and Upsher-Smith, a generic drug company based in Minneapolis, violated federal law and imposed costs of tens of millions of dollars on users of the potassium chloride supplement K-Dur 20, a treatment for the side effects of hypertension medications. The settlement was the result of a lawsuit filed by Schering-Plough against Upsher-Smith in 1995 after the generic drug maker filed applications with the FDA to sell a generic version of K-Dur 20 by 1997. In the suit, Schering-Plough argued that the company's patent protection on K-Dur 20 extended to 2006. Upsher-Smith decided to settle the lawsuit for $60 million to avoid the cost of a trial. Under the terms of the settlement, Upsher-Smith and Schering-Plough agreed to allow the generic version of K-Dur 20 to launch after a 50-month delay, rather than the 110 months that the brand-name drug maker sought. According to the FTC complaint, Upsher-Smith could have won the case, which would have provided patients with a less-expensive version of K-Dur 20 before 2001. However, in a decision announced on Tuesday, Judge D. Michael Chappell said that the FTC did not prove the alleged charges and dismissed the complaint (California Healthline, 7/3). FTC attorneys plan to appeal the case to the five-member commission, which has the authority to overrule the judge's decision, FTC spokesperson Mitchell Katz said (Bloomberg News/Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/4). The process could take as long as a year, he said (Krauskopf, Bergen Record, 7/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.