Drug retailers sue Pfizer, Teva over Effexor XR copycats

A group of drug retailers are suing Pfizer's ($PFE) Wyeth unit and generics maker Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ($TEVA), claiming that the companies worked together to keep generic versions of the antidepressant Effexor XR off the market, Bloomberg reports.

"Wyeth engaged in an overarching anticompetitive scheme to prevent and delay the approval and marketing of generic versions of Effexor XR," the suit alleges. As the retailers see it, the companies delayed entry of the generic by two years--from June 2008 to June 2010.

Walgreen and Kroger, along with other pharmacies, effectively accuse Wyeth and Teva of the sort of "pay-for-delay" tactics the Federal Trade Commission so abhors. The suit says Wyeth obtained unwarranted patents and filed "sham" infringement lawsuits to delay generic versions of the drug. It claims that the pair colluded to keep Teva's copycat version off the market until June of last year.

Of course, the drugmakers have their own points of view about their Effexor XR patent settlement. "Pfizer categorically denies the claims asserted in the plaintiffs' complaints," spokesman Christopher Loder told Reuters. "Wyeth obtained its patents protecting Effexor XR lawfully, and the company intends to defend itself vigorously against these claims." A Teva spokeswoman told the news service the company sees no merit in the retailers' lawsuit.

- read the Bloomberg story
- get more from Reuters