Friday, January 17, 2014

Novo Nordisk sued over anti-competitive practices

Pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk is being sued in the US by drug distribution companies that accuse Novo of anti-competitive practices, Jyllands-Posten newspaper reports.

Novo Nordisk is accused of keeping cheaper generic copies of its drug Prandin off the market, forcing drug distribution companies to pay for a more expensive product.

Sales of Prandin earn the Danish company around 1.4 billion kroner a year, but their monopoly ended in June when a court found that its competitor Caraco was entitled to sell a generic copy.

Protecting monopoly

Caraco applied to produce its generic version in 2005 in advance of Novo Nordisk’s patent expiring in 2009, but Novo Nordisk blocked it through legal action and by attempting to extend its patent by changing its description in the so-called ‘Orange Book’ of approved drugs in the US.

The June ruling means that consumers have been paying inflated prices for the drug, leading three distribution companies – American Sales Company, Rochester Drug Co-op and Cardinal – to sue for lost earnings.

The generic version of Prandin is now on the market, and the damages will be calculated based on the price of the drug if the generic version had entered the market when it should have.

READ MORE: Lundbeck fined 700mn kroner for blocking generic

Blocking competition

Jyllands-Posten reports that the parties tend to settle in these types of cases and the damages could reach several hundred million kroner, but Novo Nordisk has said it will try and get the case dismissed from court.

Novo Nordisk is not the only Danish pharmaceutical accused of anti-competitive practices.

In June the EU fined Lundbeck 700 million kroner for conspiring with competitors to delay the introduction of generic versions of its drugs into the market.

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