Schering-Plough Will Fight FTC Charges ‘Vigorously’
Schering-Plough Corp. announced plans to "contest" a lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission yesterday that alleged that patent settlements between the pharmaceutical company and two generic drug companies included "illegal payments" to delay a low-cost generic version a "widely used" blood pressure drug from reaching the market. The Wall Street Journal reports that in an administrative complaint filed against Schering-Plough, the Lederle unit of American Home Products Corp. and Upsher-Smith Inc., the FTC said that the deals cost consumers more than $100 million. "When payments are made to discourage entry [of generic drugs into the market], enormous potential for consumer harm exists," Molly Boast, acting director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition, said (Wigfield/Wilke, Wall Street Journal, 4/3). Schering-Plough said it would "vigorously challenge" that lawsuit, saying that the agreements with Upsher-Smith and Lederle "complied with the law" (Appleby, USA Today, 4/3). AHP and Upsher-Smith issued similar statements "denying the FTC's charges and vowing to fight them" (Wall Street Journal, 4/3). In a statement, Upsher-Smith said that the company "vigorously resists" the charges. Lowell Weiner, a spokesperson for AHP, said that "the evidence will show its settlement was pro-competitive and didn't violate antitrust laws" (Silverman, Newark Star-Ledger, 4/3). All five FTC commissioners voted for the complaint, which alleges that Schering-Plough paid Upsher-Smith and AHP "millions of dollars" to delay launching generic versions of K-Dur 20, often prescribed to patients with high-blood pressure or cardiac problems. If successful, the suit would force Schering-Plough to "license K-Dur immediately" (Wall Street Journal, 4/3).