What’s a fair price for a thirty-day supply of the extended-release diabetes medicine Glumetza—generic name metformin? Is it $55 or $2,200? The complaint for this class action alleges that a number of companies conspired to limit the entry of generic versions of Glumetza to the market. The defendants in this antitrust suit are Bausch Health Compaines, Inc. (formerly Valeant Pharmaceuticals International), Salix Pharmaceuticals, Ltd., Salix Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Santarus, Inc., Assertio Therapeutics, Inc. (formerly Depomed, Inc.), Lupin Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Lupin, Ltd.
The class for this action is all persons or entities in the US and its territories who directly bought Glumetza or generic Glumetza from one of the defendants in this case between May 6, 2012 until the end of the effects of the defendants’ actions.
Type 2 diabetes sufferers use metformin to control blood sugar. If left untreated, Type 2 diabetes can cause serious health problems, such as kidney damage, blindness, and loss of limbs.
A generic form of metformin has been on the market since 2002. Eventually, Assertio developed an extended-release version that does away with some of the regular drug’s side effects. This is the drug that was marketed as Glumetza.
However, according to the complaint, extended release drugs are very common and Assertio’s patents were weak and narrow. Other companies began competing with Assertio to market a generic version of Glumetza.
Not surprisingly, when generics come to market, prices for the original brand drug drop, and may continue dropping as more and more generic versions enter the market.
Lupin developed a generic type of Glumetza, and Assertio and its marketing partner Santarus sued for patent infringement. The filing of the lawsuit stopped Lupin’s version from entering the market for thirty months.
Just before the end of the thirty months, the parties agreed to a settlement—which the complaint alleges involved Assertio and Santarus paying Lupin to delay its drug’s entry to the market until February 2016. In exchange, Assertio and Santarus agreed not to market their own generic version of the drug for at least six months. According to the complaint, this amounted to market allocation—in time periods—and thus violates antitrust laws.
Other provisions in the settlement blocked the entry of other drug makers to the market, the complaint says. The complaint says this created a monopoly where none should have existed.
The complaint also charges that the defendants exploited the monopoly period in other ways. Salix bought Santarus and together the companies raised Glumetza prices by more than 40%. Later, Salix sold the Glumetza monopoly to Bausch (then known as Valeant).
The complaint says, “Valeant was known in the industry as a ruthless and remorseless exploiter of drug-product monopolies.” Valeant raised the price of Glumetza by 750%, increasing the price of a thirty-day supply to over $3,000. When Lupin finally entered the market, it priced its generic version at $2,200.
The complaint alleges violations of antitrust laws.