SACRAMENTO – Global pharmaceutical giant Abbott Laboratories is in the crosshairs of an 18-state lawsuit announced today involving alleged anti-trust violations.
California's Attorney General, Jerry Brown, said the company made trivial changes to its top-selling product, Tri-Cor, in order to prolong its patent.
"Through an elaborate scheme-involving multiple drug patents, baseless lawsuits, and market manipulation-Abbott and Fournier thwarted competition," Brown said.
"These companies made billions of dollars in annual profits, while Californians were burdened with artificially high drug prices."
TriCor is a brand-name prescription drug that uses the active ingredient fenofibrate to regulate triglyceride and cholesterol levels. TriCor and other fenfibrate drugs lower triglyceride levels, reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and increase high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
TriCor is generally prescribed as a maintenance drug for long-term cholesterol problems.
Abbott maintains there is plenty of competition in the market for Tri-Cor.
"Abbott's actions are lawful," Scott Stoffel, a company spokesman, told LNL. "There are eight other fenofibrate products available."
The civil complaint, filed today 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, 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.
According to its annual report, the 120-year-old company brought in $25.9 billion in revenue last year. Abbott is headquartered in Illinois and employs 65,000 people in 130 countries.