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Baltimore sues drug maker it says inflated its costs by unfairly staving off competition

Baltimore said Monday that it has filed an antitrust lawsuit against the maker of a blockbuster prostate cancer drug for filing “sham” litigation to fend off generic drug makers, resulting in the city facing inflated costs for prescriptions for municipal workers and retirees.

The suit in U.S. District Court is at least the second against Janssen Biotech Inc, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary. BlueCross BlueShield of Louisiana also filed suit over Zytiga, which first won a patent in 2004.

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The city’s suit alleges the company sought additional patent protection to prevent generic drug makers from entering the market by withholding pertinent information from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, and then pursued patent enforcement litigation against generic drug makers that the suit called baseless.

The company lost in its latest effort to extend the patent in the U.S. Court of Appeals last week.

Baltimore is self-insured and covers about 5,000 employees and 25,000 retirees and their families. The city is seeking damages and attorneys’ fees for the extra costs incurred between the patent’s expiration in 2016 to the present.

“When big pharma engages in anti-competitive tactics to maintain its profits and thus harms the city, we will enforce the law to both recover damages and deter future fraudulent conduct,” Baltimore City Solicitor Andre M. Davis said in a statement. “The city needs every dollar for essential services.”

The company said in a statement, “Janssen stands by its decision to defend the validity and infringement of the relevant patent.”

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