GSK reaches $150M deal in Flonase antitrust case

GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and a group of drug wholesalers have come to terms in a lawsuit over generic Flonase. The drugmaker agreed to pay $150 million to the companies--including Meijer, AmerisourceBergen ($ABC), Cardinal Health and McKesson ($MCK), among others--that accused it of delaying cheap copies of the blockbuster nasal spray.

The tentative antitrust settlement, approved by a federal court in Pennsylvania, would resolve claims that Glaxo abused the FDA rules to maintain its exclusivity on Flonase, which peaked at $1.3 billion in sales. Glaxo allegedly used the citizen's petition process to delay Flonase copies, by filing "frivolous" petitions and by asking for "extremely rigorous" bioequivalence requirements.

It's not the only lawsuit accusing Glaxo of improperly delaying Flonase copies. A class action certified in June pits Flonase users against the company, alleging that patients overpaid for the nasal spray because of the company's "sham" citizen petitions.

Glaxo isn't alone in fighting litigation over generics delays. Pfizer ($PFE) has been sued twice by groups of pharmacies over alleged collusion in fighting copycat drugs. One suit accuses Pfizer and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ($TEVA) of working together to extend Pfizer's monopoly on the antidepressant Effexor XR. In another case, drug retailers allege that Pfizer and Ranbaxy Laboratories conspired to keep generic Lipitor off the market for 20 months after the patent lapsed.

- read the Reuters story