GSK appeal of pay-for-delay fine falls short, drugmaker told to pay $54M

justice scales and gavel
GlaxoSmithKline has been ordered to pay a fine of nearly $55 million for a pay-for-delay case that accused the company of working a deal with generic makers to keep its once top-selling Paxil off the market in the U.K. (Getty/BrianAJackson)

A pay-for-delay case against GlaxoSmithKline and its one-time top seller Paxil that has been kicking around for years in the U.K. has finally been decided, and Glaxo has been told to pay up on a fine. But the case is still pending before another court, so the matter is still not resolved. 

The U.K.’s Competition Appeal Tribunal agreed with England’s antitrust regulator that deals GSK had struck with generic makers to keep its now off-patent antidepressant Seroxat/Paxil benefited the drugmakers while costing the National Health Service a load of money, the Morning Star reports. Glaxo had appealed a 2016 decision by the Competitions and Market Authority, which resulted in a £37.6 million ($54 million) fine for the company.

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Glaxo in an email today said: "Today’s judgement by the Competition Appeal Tribunal has referred all substantive points to the Court of Justice of the EU. Therefore, we are still waiting on a final judgement. As such it’s not appropriate for us to comment further.”

RELATED: Glaxo balks at U.K.'s $54M pay-for-delay fine

The CMA alleged that between 2001 and 2004, GSK set up deals and paid about $72 million to a host of generic companies to delay selling their copycat versions of its medicines, artificially allowing GSK to keep flogging its own, much pricier meds to the state-run NHS. The generic companies named in the original case against GSK, including Germany’s Merck, Generics UK and others, were also fined around $7 million together.

At one point, the CMA pointed out that within a year after generics hit the market, the price of GSK’s best-selling drug had fallen nearly 70%.

RELATED: Mylan signs off on $96.5M Provigil pay-for-delay settlement

For awhile, pay-for-delay cases were a frequent occurrence against drugmakers, both by regulators in the U.S. and in Europe as well as by some large drug purchasers, but they have tapered off in the last few years. A group of drug purchasers that sued Mylan and others more than a decade ago over delays to generics of Teva’s narcolepsy med Provigil last year pulled a $96.5 million settlement out of Mylan.