The pay-for-delay battle is now in U.K. court. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has sued the French drugmaker Servier for £220 million ($361.3 million), claiming that the company blocked generic versions of its blood pressure drug Perindopril to keep its hold on the market. Besides paying one generics company £5 million to keep its copycat off the market, Servier threatened to sue other generics makers if they tried to sell their own versions, the government says.
Lansley's suit--filed in concert with National Health Service authorities--seeks to recoup overcharges for Perindopril between 2001 and 2007. The suit puts that figure at £220 million.
This isn't the Health Secretary's first attempt to collect alleged overcharges. The government also sued Reckitt Benckiser, earlier this year, claiming that the company had charged £90 million too much for its heartburn drugs.
It's far from the first government push-back against settlements between generics companies and branded drugmakers. Authorities on both sides of the Atlantic have been investigating so-called pay-for-delay deals for several years now. The FTC has repeatedly sued drugmakers over their patent settlements--with little success so far--and has been lobbying Congress for legislation that would make such deals illegal. Meanwhile, EU antitrust regulators have been probing drugmakers all over the continent, saying that delayed generics are costing European governments billions each year.