Brown claims drug companies blocked generic testosterone

Legal News Line Feb. 2, 2009, 10:44am

Jerry Brown (D)

LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) - California Attorney General Jerry Brown and the Federal Trade Commission on Monday filed an antitrust lawsuit against four pharmaceutical companies over an alleged conspiracy to monopolize the sale of testosterone supplements.

The attorney general's lawsuit contends that Solvay Pharmaceuticals illegally colluded with three other companies to keep companies from producing generic alternatives to its testosterone supplement, AndroGel.

AndroGel can help prevent muscle loss, fatigue or erectile dysfunction in critically ill patients suffering from HIV/AIDS, diabetes and advanced age, according to the attorney general's office.

"The companies plotted to keep cheap generic drugs off the market, costing consumers millions," Brown said. "This was a predatory move pure and simple, increasing drug company profits at the expense of critically ill patients."

In exchange for their cooperation, three pharmaceutical companies accepted an agreement for payments of millions of dollars over several years from Solvay, which allowed Solvay to continue to charge inflated prices for AndroGel. Sales of AndroGel exceeded $400 million in 2007, a statement said.

In 2003, Watson Pharmaceuticals and Par Pharmaceuticals, two of the companies allegedly paid by Solvay to stop production of a generic equivalent to AndroGel, sought approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to make and sell their product.

Both companies received final approval from the FDA, clearing the way for them to compete with AndroGel. But they never sold their product, which the attorney general claims is a violation of state and federal antitrust laws banning unfair competition.

Paddock Laboratories Inc. is the third company sued by Brown.

"Typically, when generic alternatives are introduced in the market, the prices of brand name drugs are reduced by 50 to 80 percent," the attorney general's office said.

The price for AndroGel is $225 for a box of 150 individual units.

More News