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 and anti-competitive reverse payment schemes.

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

Plaintiffs allege that Pfizer, the manufacturer of Lipitor, conspired with Ranbaxy, a manufacturer of generic Lipitor, to allow Pfizer to monopolize the market for Lipitor more than 20 months after Pfizer’s allowable period of patent exclusivity.  Specifically, the plaintiffs claim, Pfizer unlawfully obtained extended patent protections for a key part of Lipitor's active ingredient by “lying” to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office about whether a newer patent was actually surprising and unexpected. In addition, Ranbaxy agreed to delay its generic Lipitor until 2011 in exchange for Pfizer dropping an antitrust lawsuit over a different drug, blood pressure medication Accupril. Plaintiffs further allege that defendants, Pfizer and Ranbaxy, conspired to divide up the world-wide market for Lipitor and share the monopoly profits.

On October 19, 2012, Co-Lead Counsel successfully defeated a motion to stay discovery pending resolution of the anticipated motions to dismiss. Since the Supreme Court’s ruling in Twombly, efforts by antitrust plaintiffs to obtain discovery prior to a ruling on the motion to dismiss have faced significant challenges. 

Cohen Milstein’s efforts to defeat Defendants’ assertions and move the case forward on behalf of plaintiffs, has been closely watched by the Pharmaceutical industry. 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.

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