On August 21, 2017, the Third Circuit handed a sweeping victory to buyers of cholesterol drug Lipitor, the best-selling drug in the history of the pharmaceutical industry, reviving their antitrust claims for alleged patent fraud, sham litigation and an anti-competitive reverse payment scheme.

The appellate panel found the lawsuits in the multidistrict litigation plausibly alleged various ploys to artificially inflate the costs of Lipitor to make it past the dismissal stage. The decision entirely reinstates the suit against Pfizer and generic-drug maker Ranbaxy over Lipitor, which had been dismissed entirely.

Cohen Milstein is Co-Lead Counsel of a proposed class of indirect purchasers.

Case Background

The case alleges that Pfizer and its predecessors and affiliates engaged in an overarching anticompetitive scheme to delay less-expensive generic Lipitor competition.  The scheme included defrauding the United States Patent and Trademark Office, filing a baseless FDA petition, and conspiring with the first generic ANDA filer, Ranbaxy, not to enter the market until a particular date in 2011.  Plaintiffs allege that the scheme caused purchasers to be deprived of a less-expensive generic version of Lipitor and thus overcharged by billions of dollars.  Violations of various state laws are charged against both the Pfizer entities and Ranbaxy.

On October 19, 2012, Co-Lead Counsel successfully defeated a motion to stay discovery pending resolution of the anticipated motions to dismiss. Although originally dismissed by the District Court, the case was reinstated, in full, by the Third Circuit.  In addition, on August 21, the proposed indirect purchaser class defeated, in large part, Defendants’ motion to dismiss certain state law claims. 

Cohen Milstein’s efforts to defeat Defendants’ assertions and move the case forward on behalf of plaintiffs, has been closely watched. In July 2017, Law360 recognized In re: Lipitor Antitrust Litigation, as one of the biggest competition cases of 2017.

Cohen Milstein was appointed Co-Lead Counsel of a proposed class of indirect purchasers on July 31, 2012 and Sharon K. Robertson was personally appointed on April 3, 2017 (ECF No. 647).

The case name is: In re Lipitor Antitrust Litigation, Case No. 14-4202, 14-4632, Appellate - 3rd Circuit.