Pfizer antes up $345M to settle long-running EpiPen antitrust claims as Viatris case moves ahead

After four years of “vigorous litigation,” Pfizer is paying up to settle antitrust allegations over its partnership on the epinephrine injection EpiPen.

Pfizer and two of its subsidiaries, Meridian Medical Technologies and King Pharmaceuticals, have agreed to fork over $345 million to settle years of antitrust litigation surrounding the pricey anaphylaxis injectable EpiPen. Mylan, now known as Viatris, sold the medicine, while Pfizer's subsidiaries helped with production.

Pfizer submitted its settlement proposal to the Kansas District Court this week. The case is set to go to trial Sept. 7, but if U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree OKs the bid, Pfizer would win a reprieve from class action claims leveled by insurers, pension funds and consumers.

Less than a month ago, the same federal court dismissed racketeering and some antitrust claims against Mylan, which fused with Pfizer’s Upjohn unit in late 2020 to form the new company Viatris.

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The settlement deal would "fully resolve plaintiffs’ class action claims against Pfizer," a Pfizer spokesperson said over email.

"Pfizer denies any wrongdoing and continues to believe that its actions were appropriate," the spokesperson added, noting that the agreement "reflects a desire by the company to avoid the distraction of continued litigation and focus on breakthroughs that change patients’ lives.”

Plaintiffs are pleased with the development, too, one of their lawyers told Kansas City's NPR affiliate KCUR. The plaintiffs are eager to try remaining claims against Mylan in court, he added. 

The EpiPen antitrust saga dates to 2016, when Pfizer, Mylan and other defendants faced a wave of class action lawsuits accusing them of anticompetitive marketing tactics. The claims focused on EpiPen’s notorious price hikes, plus deals with pharma middlemen to hinder competition.

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In late June, Crabtree dismissed EpiPen racketeering claims against fellow defendant Mylan, which included charges against the company's former chief executive, Heather Bresch, Viatris said at the time. The judge also dismissed claims that Mylan deflected competition by paying rebates to PBMs. 

Meanwhile, an EpiPen patent feud between Pfizer and Teva Pharmaceutical will proceed, Viatris said. In that case, Teva argues Pfizer and its compatriots engaged in "sham" patent litigation to waylay the debut of Teva's generic epinephrine injectable.