McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt and co-counsel have filed an antitrust class action lawsuit against Novartis on behalf of direct purchasers of the drug Gleevac who were denied the right to purchase generic versions of the drug during a certain time period. Gleevec is an FDA-approved prescription drug manufactured and sold by Novartis that improves the lives of patients with chronic myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Gleevac revenue was $4.65 billion in 2015.

McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt’s lawsuit alleges that the Novartis patent should have expired on July 4, 2015 and that generic Gleevec would have entered the market thereafter if not for improper acts by Novartis. The lawsuit alleges that Novartis has delayed the entry of competition into the marketplace through patent infringement litigation to enforce a patent that it knows to be invalid.

According to the lawsuit, this conduct violates section 2 of the Sherman Act. Section 2 of the Sherman Act forbids monopolizing or attempts to monopolize. The Clayton Act allows an injured private party to seek damages for violations of antitrust laws.

McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt represents RXDN, Inc., a pharmacy that purchased Gleevec tablets after July 4, 2015 and alleges that it paid more for Gleevec then it would have if Novartis hadn’t improperly delayed the entry of generics into the market.

Pursuant to a settlement agreement between Novartis and Sun Pharmaceutical, Sun launched its generic equivalent of Gleevec in February 2016. Other competitors remain in litigation with Novartis.

The Federal Trade Commission has taken a strong stand over the past few years against pharmaceutical companies that have engaged in a strategy of “pay for delay” patent settlements against generic competition. The FTC website indicates that anticompetitive deals cost consumers and taxpayers $3.5 billion in higher drug costs every year.

The lawsuit is McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt’s second against Novartis. McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt and co-counsel represent the whistleblower in the Department of Justice’s pending False Claims Act lawsuit in the Southern District of New York over alleged violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute through payments for “sham” speaker programs.

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