Drug scheme costs corporations

Drug manufacturers Abbott Laboratories of Illinois and Fournier Industrie et Sante of France agreed to pay $22.5 million to 24 states, including Nevada, to settle claims they illegally blocked generic versions of the cholesterol-reducing medication TriCor (fenofibrate), which they market jointly. Fournier is owned by a development partner of Abbott.

The states argued that when TriCor’s patents were about to expire and other drug companies were lining up to make generic version, the corporations “product hopped,” making trivial alterations in the formula for TriCor in order to keep it under patent.

“They used minor reformulations of the drug to delay competition and filed frivolous patent lawsuits,” said California Attorney General Jerry Brown. Nevada signed onto the lawsuit. There was no immediate explanation why the state AGs prosecuted the case instead of federal officials.

“Anti-competitive behavior by drug companies ultimately costs consumers money when they prevent access to generic versions of their drugs,” said Nevada Attorney General Cortez Masto.