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For Immediate Release
November 7, 2005
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

ATTORNEY GENERAL CURRAN SUES PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES TO ENJOIN ANTICOMPETITIVE AGREEMENT


Twenty-two States File Lawsuit Alleging Defendants’ Agreement Prevented Generic Competition for Oral Contraceptive


Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. today sued Warner Chilcott Corporation and Barr Pharmaceuticals, Inc. for entering into an agreement which blocked generic competition for Warner Chilcott’s oral contraceptive Ovcon®. The lawsuit, filed with 20 other states plus DC, and in conjunction with the Federal Trade Commission, alleges that Warner Chilcott paid Barr $20 million to keep it from marketing a generic version of Ovcon®.

According to Attorney General Curran, "The agreement between Warner Chilcott and Barr constitutes a blatant illegal restraint of trade in the pharmaceutical industry. When competitors agree not to compete with each other in exchange for monetary gain, consumers and government purchasers are harmed."

Since 1976, Ovcon® has been sold in the United States as a safe and effective oral contraceptive. Beginning in 2000, Warner Chilcott became the exclusive U.S. distributor of Ovcon®. In September 2001, Barr filed with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) an application to allow it to bring a generic version of Ovcon® to market. In early 2003, Barr publicly announced that it planned to have the generic on the market by the end of that year. In response to this threat to its monopoly, in September 2003, Warner Chilcott paid Barr $1 million for an option agreement. Under the terms of the agreement, once Barr received FDA approval to market generic Ovcon®, Warner Chilcott had 90 days to pay Barr $19 million. Once Warner Chilcott made this payment, Barr would be prevented from coming to market with generic Ovcon®.

On April 23, 2004, the FDA gave Barr approval to market generic Ovcon®. On May 6, 2004, Warner Chilcott exercised its option by paying Barr $19 million. As a result of the option agreement, as of today, Warner Chilcott remains the only company in the United States which markets Ovcon® .

Attorney General Curran stated, "This investigation and litigation is a good example of the cooperative antitrust enforcement efforts between the State Attorneys General and the federal government, and we plan to continue these efforts to benefit all purchasers of prescription drugs."

 

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