According to The Guardian (3/18/15), the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission alleged in its lawsuit that Pfizer engaged in anticompetitive practices by giving pharmacists heavy discounts in exchange for purchasing large amounts of the drugmaker’s generic version of Lipitor. This practice would have made it more difficult for other drugmakers to sell their generic versions of Lipitor. Pfizer allegedly undertook these activities just before it was about to lose its patent on Lipitor, which would have allowed other companies to sell their own generic versions of the anti-cholesterol medication.
The Guardian (2/25/15) writes that the judge found Pfizer took advantage of its market power but that power was not significant when Pfizer offered the discounts. Pfizer has defended its actions saying the company meets ethical standards.
The Australian federal court dismissed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s lawsuit, finding a lack of evidence. The commission has reportedly already filed a notice of appeal.
Lipitor (known generically as atorvastatin) is a statin, used to treat high cholesterol levels thereby reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Some patients, however, allege they developed diabetes as a result of taking Lipitor.
READ MORE LIPITOR LEGAL NEWS
As of March 16, 2015, there are 2,079 lawsuits involved in the Lipitor multidistrict litigation before Judge Richard M. Gergel (South Carolina) in MDL-2502. That is up from 1,604 lawsuits consolidated as of January 15, 2015 and a huge increase over the 56 lawsuits that were initially consolidated in the MDL in February 2014.
There are also around 30 lawsuits in state court before US District Judge Peter G. Sheridan (New Jersey) in MDL 2332. Lawsuits filed against Pfizer allege the company knew or should have known about the risks associated with Lipitor but failed to warn patients about those risks. The first Lipitor bellwether trial is expected to reach court in October 2015.