Viatris scores a win in long-running EpiPen antitrust lawsuit, but patent settlement charge heads to trial

Epipen
A Kansas judge has dismissed numerous claims against generics giant Viatris as part of an ongoing class action, the company said Wednesday. (Getty/CarrieCaptured)

Generic giant Mylan has faced a slew of lawsuits targeting its EpiPen marketing strategies. Now known as Viatris, the drugmaker says it's scored a win against serious charges in an antitrust case that's been running for several years. 

Viatris, the newly-formed company that combined Mylan and Pfizer's Upjohn unit late last year, said it's "pleased" with the Kansas District Court's decision to rule in favor of the company's summary judgment motion in the case, according to a Wednesday statement. Most of the charges in the case have been dismissed, but one will head to trial.

The case dates back to 2017 when the plaintiffs, over hundreds of pages, charged Mylan with a number of anticompetitive strategies to build and maintain its EpiPen empire. In one case, the plaintiffs—an employee health plan plus consumers—said Mylan pulled a "hard switch" by only offering the EpiPens in packs of two, forcing buyers to have to pay more with no medical rationale.

RELATED: EpiPen partners Mylan, Pfizer have to fight class action over 'egregious' antitrust claims

Mylan also paid excessive rebates to pharmacy benefit managers, commercial payers and state Medicaid programs as long as they didn't reimburse competing products, plaintiffs said. They further cited the well-known and dramatic price hikes Mylan implemented over the years.

The judge's latest ruling dismissed all claims related to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, including charges against the company's former CEO Heather Bresch, Viatris said. The court also dismissed the charge that Mylan prevented competition through rebate arrangements with PBMs. 

However, one claim related to patent settlements between Pfizer, which manufactured EpiPen, and Israeli drugmaker Teva remains outstanding and will go to trial, a Viatris spokesperson said. In the case, the plaintiffs claimed the companies abused "sham" patent litigation to forestall Teva's generic version from entering the market. 

Despite that, the company said the latest decision "vindicates" its efforts to defend itself "against a series of claims over the past few years relating to EpiPen that have proven to be baseless." 

RELATED: Sanofi looks to take Mylan to court, again, over EpiPen antitrust allegations

The ruling comes over two years after Pfizer and Mylan tried to do away with the lawsuit entirely, but only managed to convince the judge to toss out a few claims. It also marks the second summary judgment win for Viatris in just six months from the same Kansas court.

In December, the court ruled in Mylan's favor in a separate lawsuit brought on by Sanofi. The French pharma has long argued that Mylan used anticompetitive practices to market the EpiPen, scuppering the launch of its more "consumer-friendly" alternative Auvi-Q. 

Sanofi, which launched its epinephrine competitor in 2013, requested a new trial earlier this month, arguing its claims were "were incorrectly dismissed and the case should proceed to trial."