The manufacturer of the oral contraceptive product Ovcon have settled antitrust allegations with 35 state attorneys general, with several of them making the announcement Wednesday.
Warner Chilcott will pay $5.5 million total to settle allegations that it prevented generic versions of its product from reaching the marketplace. The attorneys general claim the company paid Barr Pharmaceuticals $20 million to keep a generic version off the shelves.
"Access to generic drugs helps to contain the ever-increasing cost of health care. Without generics, many Mainers would be unable to afford the prescription their physicians prescribe." Maine Attorney General Steven Rowe said.
"The conduct in this case was particularly egregious. These companies conspired to keep a generic off the market, thereby ensuring the continuation of high consumer prices. The conduct both violated the law and hurt consumers."
Ovcon has been sold in the U.S. since 1976, and Warner Chilcott became its exclusive distributor in early 2000.
Three years later, Barr announced it planned to have a generic version of it by the end of 2003. The lawsuit alleges Warner Chilcott paid Barr $1 million for an option agreement designed to prevent it from coming to the market, then paying another $19 million after the Food and Drug Administration approved the geneic version.
The suit was filed in 2005 in federal court in the District of Columbia. The case against Barr will continue.
"Companies cannot strike illegal deals that harm consumers," said Maryland's Doug Gansler said. "I am pleased that we were able to reach a settlement in this case, ensuring that consumers will not be victimized by companies trying to make a profit at their expense."
Part of Bermuda-based Warner Chilcott's settlement states it will not engage in similar conduct in the future.