John O'Brien Apr. 28, 2008, 4:25pm
DOVER, Del. (Legal Newsline) - The number of state attorneys general facing off against pharmaceutical heavyweight Abbott Laboratories is increasing.
Eight attorneys general have added themselves to a lawsuit against Abbott that alleges it delayed the availability of cheaper versions of one of its cholesterol-lowering drugs. Fournier Industrie et Sante and Laboratoires Fournier are also defendants in the suit.
"Anticompetitive and deceptive practices that exclude lower cost alternatives are unlawful and inflate health care costs for Massachusetts residents and the Commonwealth itself," said Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, one the late additions.
Originally, 18 attorneys general filed the suit. They claimed Abbott made trivial changes to Tri-Cor to postpone its patent and keep generic versions off the market.
The civil complaint, filed in March in federal court seeks triple the amount of damages incurred by the state's public health agencies and individual consumers. The reason for seeking exemplary damages, California Attorney General Jerry Brown's office said, is due to the willful, egregious and repeated nature of the alleged violations.
Joining California in the suit were Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Washington and West Virginia.
Massachusetts, Idaho, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Vermont, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. all joined the suit last week.