On November 20, 2020, retailers Walgreen Co., the Kroger Co., Albertsons Cos. and H-E-B LP filed an antitrust action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York concerning Bystolic, a beta blocker drug used to treat high blood pressure that has $638 million in annual U.S. Sales. Bystolic was developed by Forest Laboratories, and subsequently manufactured by AbbVie Inc. and Allergan Inc.
The new action by the retailers joins the July 2020 class action by direct and indirect purchasers. The Bystolic litigation alleges that the brand manufacturer entered into a series of “pay to delay” settlements with generic competitors Hetero, Torrent, Alkem, Indchemie, Glenmark, Amerigen, and Watson from October 2012 through November 2013 to delay entry of generic Bystolic. These settlements constituted an agreement to delay generic entry in exchange for “side-deals”. The class period is June 2015 to the present.
At the hearing on Bigelow Tea’s motion to dismiss, Schneider Wallace attorneys argued for the class action lawsuit brought against Bigelow Tea for its misleading use of the term “Manufactured in the USA” for tea grown and processed overseas.
The complaint alleges that Bigelow Tea knowingly purchases foreign-sourced black, green and oolong tea leaves, which are also processed from their raw state overseas. Bigelow labels these foreign-grown and foreign-processed teas as “manufactured in the USA” and “100% American family owned”.
Schneider Wallace was appointed class counsel for approximately 200,000 participants in Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA) retirement accounts, after the judge certified the class. The class certification covers nearly 8,000 retirement plans.
The certified class includes all members of TIAA retirement plans governed by ERISA, dating back to 2011, where borrowing participants provided 110% of the principal balance of the loans and TIAA invested in their general account. The Plaintiff is represented by Todd Schneider of Schneider Wallace Cottrell Konecky Wotkyns LLP.
Schneider Wallace secured a $23.6 million class-action settlement with more than a dozen banks. In approving the settlement, U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Schofield praised the settlement attorneys, stating: “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a case without a single objection or opt-out, so congratulations on that”.
The settlement benefits eight classes of investors affected by forex-rigging in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York and North Carolina. The claims allege these investors were harmed by the collusion and that the banks failed to maintain safeguards to protect the manipulation or spot the collusion.
On September 1, 2020, the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island approved a trio of settlements totaling $183.5 million between direct purchasers, insurers, and end-payors of Loestrin 24 and Minastrin 24 and Lupin, Warner Chilcott and Watson.
The plaintiffs allege Warner Chilcott engaged in a reverse-payment scheme with generic manufacturers to delay generic entry of Loestrin 24 until 2014, thereby enabling Warner Chilcott to sell Loestrin 24 at artificially inflated prices.
Gilead and the Department of Justice agree to a $97 million settlement based on allegations Gilead violated the False Claims Act. The allegations include that Gilead paid Medicare co-pays for Letairis using a charitable foundation. Letairis had sales of nearly $1 billion a year through 2018, prior to losing patent exclusivity.
Gilead also is facing a new class action in California, alleging a Gilead pay-for-delay with Cipla to delay the generic entry for Truvada. The allegations are Gilead bundled a payment to produce other drugs in order to delay entry. Gilead already faces anticompetitive scheme lawsuits in California in Stanley v Gilead Sciences.
The Security and Exchange Commission announced a record award of $114 million to a whistleblower after their work assisted both an SEC case and a case with another agency. The previous record was $50 million, awarded earlier in 2020.
Since 2012 the SEC has awarded 108 whistleblowers a total of $676 million. SEC whistleblower rewards are paid from monetary sanctions from SEC security violations. Whistleblowers can be awarded 10 to 30 percent of a sanction for their contributions and remain anonymous.
Actavis has agreed to settle claims from direct purchasers of Intuniv that the company used a pay-for-delay scheme to delay generic competition of their attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder drug.
United Healthcare filed a complaint against Merck, Glenmark and Par alleging they conspired to prevent generic competition for Zetia. Previous class actions regarding Zetia pay-for-delay were consolidated in an MDL in the Eastern District of Virginia.
Plaintiffs allege Merck violated antitrust laws by entering into a “reverse payment” agreement in 2010 to delay generic competitors until December 2016. The result was six years of inflated pricing and an illegal payment by Merck to remove the competition and maintain the pricing.
On September 30, 2020, the House Oversight and Reform Committee reported their first findings from an 18-month investigation into drug company pricing practices. The committee found drug companies are taking advantage of the federal law that prohibits Medicare from negotiating lower prices directly with drug companies.
The investigation includes reviews of Teva Copaxone price increases and Bristol Myers Squibb Revlimid price increases. Copaxone pricing was raised 27 times by Teva, raising the price per year of the medication from $10k to $70k. Revlimid price was increased 22 times from $215 to $763.