NEWS

Allergan drops appeal of order blocking Alzheimer's drug switch

Thursday, Nov 26, 2015

Allergan PLC said on Wednesday it will not appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a court ruling this year that blocked the company from discontinuing its top-selling Alzheimer's drug in favor of a pricier version.

Allergan will also pay $172,000 in legal expenses under a settlement with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who filed an antitrust lawsuit to block the drug switch, the company said.

Schneiderman filed the lawsuit last year after Dublin-based Actavis, since bought by Allergan, said it would discontinue its drug Namenda IR in favor of Namenda XR. The two drugs have the same active ingredient, memantine, but Namenda XR is taken once daily instead of twice.

The lawsuit claimed that by forcing patients to switch to the new version, Actavis hoped to stave off competition from drugmakers who planned to release generic versions of Namenda IR in July.

About 30 U.S. states, including New York, have laws requiring pharmacists to substitute a generic drug for a brand-name drug whenever an exact equivalent is available.

Last December, U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet in Manhattan ordered Actavis to keep Namenda IR on the market through August. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that order in May.

It was the first ruling from a U.S. appeals court to address whether "product hopping," in which pharmaceutical companies replace their drugs with new versions as their patents expire to maintain their monopolies, can violate antitrust law.

The first generic versions of Namenda IR hit the market in July, making the dispute underlying the lawsuit moot. Nonetheless, Allergan petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case earlier this month.

Schneiderman said Wednesday that there was no need for the case to continue, since he had won the court order he sought and Alzheimer's patients were not forced to switch to Namenda XR.

The case is People of the State of New York v. Actavis Plc, et al, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, No. 14-4624

 

reuters.com