A federal judge on Thursday, April 11, declined to consider a request to certify a class of health plans and insurers who claim the drugmaker Warner Chilcott, now owned by Allergan, suppressed generic competition for its ulcerative colitis drug Asacol.
US District Judge Denise Casper in Boston ruled that certifying the class would be “futile” after the 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals in October overturned her earlier ruling certifying a class of so-called end-payors of the drug.
The original Asacol was a 400-milligram tablet that treated two digestive-tract ailments, colitis, and Crohn’s disease. It had been brought to market by Warner Chilcott, a company bought by Actavis 3 in 2013, and was its biggest drug, with sales of US$891 million in 2012. In the spring of 2013, just as the patent was about to expire, Warner Chilcott/Actavis discontinued Asacol and came out with Dezicol, followed by Asacol HD. They both had the same basic ingredient; the only difference was that Dezicol came in capsule form, while Asacol HD was an 800-milligram version.
Not long thereafter, Actavis settled a patent lawsuit with generic-drugmaker Zydus Pharmaceuticals that allowed Zydus to bring an Asacol generic to market starting in July 2016. As part of the settlement, Zydus agreed to turn over 75% of its profits to Actavis (which changed its name to Allergan when it bought the company in 2015). This gave Zydus an incentive to keep the price of the drug as high as possible, even though it’s a generic.
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