Request To Create California Subclass In Lipitor Antitrust Case Refused

A federal judge has refused to create a California subclass within a nationwide proposed class action accusing Pfizer of obtaining a fraudulent patent and conspiring with generic drugmaker Ranbaxy to delay sales of generic versions of its cholesterol drug Lipitor.

US District Judge Peter Sheridan in New Jersey on Friday, February 26, rejected an argument by two California residents who bought Lipitor that they needed a separate class because the lead plaintiffs, municipalities, and health plans, were third-party payors that did not take the drug themselves and so lacked standing to bring claims under California’s Cartwright Act, an antitrust law.

The lawsuit, filed in 2012, stems from a 2008 settlement of a patent lawsuit filed by Pfizer against Ranbaxy over Ranbaxy’s plan to make generic Lipitor. Under the deal, Pfizer agreed to drop a claim for damages against Ranbaxy, and Ranbaxy agreed to stay out of the Lipitor market until November 2011.

Retailers and distribution companies claim that the settlement amounted to Pfizer paying Ranbaxy to stay out of the Lipitor market, violating antitrust laws. But Sheridan ruled on Friday that their case failed because they did not offer any allegation of the settlement’s dollar value.

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