About Hagens Berman: (www.hagens-berman.com) Hagens Berman is a law firm with offices in Seattle, Boston, Los Angeles and Phoenix. Managing partner Steve Berman was recently named co-lead counsel in litigation to recover losses from Enron employees' retirement funds. Berman is a nationally recognized expert in class-action litigation. Berman represented Washington, Idaho and 12 other states in lawsuits against the tobacco industry that resulted in the largest settlement in the history of litigation. Berman also served as counsel in several other high-profile cases including the Washington Public Power Supply litigation, which resulted in a settlement of more than $850 million, and the proposed $92.5 million settlement of The Boeing Company litigation. Other notable cases include litigation involving the Exxon Valdez oil spill; Louisiana Pacific Siding; Morrison Knudsen; Piper Jaffrey; Nordstrom; Boston Chicken; and Noah's Bagels.
OxyContin Maker Used Deceit, Stalling Tactics to Block Generic Drugs and Gouge Consumers, According to Consumer LawsuitExclusive Rights to Drug Reaps Billions in Profits for Company
at Expense of Patients Seeking Relief from Pain
HARTFORD, Conn., Jan. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- A number of consumer groups and individuals today filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, L.P. ("Purdue") claiming that the drug maker reaped billions in unlawful profit from OxyContin consumers through fraudulent patents and sham lawsuits that blocked generic alternatives to the widely prescribed pain reliever.
The suit, led by the Boston-based advocacy group Prescription Access Litigation project (PAL) on behalf of Connecticut Citizen Action Group and Health Care For All, was filed in the US District Court for the District of Connecticut. It has been assigned to Judge Mark R. Kravitz in New Haven. PAL is a project of Community Catalyst, a nonprofit, national health care advocacy organization.
The suit alleges that Purdue has been illegally marketing and selling OxyContin since December 1995, when it received approval from the Food and Drug Administration ("FDA"). To win its patents on the drug in the first place, Purdue told the federal patent office that OxyContin was unique because of its effectiveness at very low dosages. The suit charges that Purdue knew that there was no evidence to support this assertion at the time the company filed for the patents and therefore received exclusive rights to the drug that it did not deserve.
The consumer groups' lawsuit goes on to allege that the drug maker has gone to lengths to maintain its monopoly over the drug by suing a generic company to prevent it from putting a less expensive version of OxyContin on the market. More than 70% of Purdue's $1.8 billion in annual revenue comes from the sale of OxyContin.
"Once more, consumers have learned a harsh lesson about the myriad ways this nation's drug companies illegally manipulate our access to prescription drugs," said Stephen Rosenfeld, PAL Interim Director. "It appears they will go to great lengths -- including lying to the federal government and pursuing sham litigation -- to preserve their control of a drug that so many patients desperately need."
The lawsuit alleges violations of federal antitrust law and state antitrust and unfair and deceptive trade practices.
"From the beginning, OxyContin's enormous profit potential drove an operating modus of lies and deceit," said Steve Berman, attorney for the plaintiffs and managing partner of Seattle-based Hagens Berman. "We intend to fully expose how the company used fraudulent statements to take undeserved profits from consumers."
In a recent decision in the underlying patent case between Purdue and the generic manufacturer who attempted to bring generic OxyContin to the market, a federal judge ruled that Purdue's patents on the drug were invalid because of Purdue's material misrepresentations to the federal patent office. The judge based his ruling, in large part, on the trial testimony of OxyContin's inventor, who admitted that he had done no clinical studies or had no other evidence to support Purdue's claim that lower dosages of the drug were effective in treating pain.
According to the consumer groups, because of Purdue's actions, consumers have paid and continue to pay a highly inflated price for OxyContin -- one they would not have paid if competing or generic versions of the drug were available.
"When drug companies act illegally, consumers take the hit no matter which way they turn," said Marcia Hams, Deputy Director of Health Care for All. "Either they pay more out of their pocket for their drugs or they see a jump in their insurance premiums. That, or in some instances, they go without a drug they desperately need."
Tom Swan, Executive Director of Connecticut Citizen Action Group added, "With this suit, we're challenging the pharmaceutical industry's unmitigated profit-seeking behavior. It's outrageous that corporate monopolies are distorting patient access to essential drug treatments. Until the federal government steps in to demand fair play, consumers are going to push this as far as we can in the courts."
The suit asks the court to declare that the OxyContin patents are invalid and to take action to prevent drug companies from engaging in such patent abuse in the future. In addition, the consumer groups ask that Purdue be forced to compensate consumers for money spent on the drug and relinquish all profits received from its sale.
A copy of the complaint will soon be available on PAL's web site: www.prescriptionaccess.org and www.hagens-berman.com.
Prescription Access Litigation (PAL): (www.prescriptionaccess.org) Since its launch in 2001, the Prescription Access Litigation (PAL) project has filed 18 sets of lawsuits targeting drug industry practices that illegally push the price of prescription drugs beyond the reach of the American consumer. A project of Boston-based Community Catalyst, PAL is on the ground in 34 states and the District of Columbia; the coalition is comprised of 91 state, local, and national senior and consumer health advocacy groups fighting to make prescription drugs affordable.
Community Catalyst (www.communitycatalyst.org) is a national healthcare advocacy organization dedicated to building consumer and community participation in the decisions that shape our health system. Working in partnership with state, local, and grassroots consumer groups in over 30 states, Community Catalyst has helped preserve over $16 billion in community health assets as hospitals and health plans around the country have become for-profit corporations. It works on a range of healthcare access issues, including today's struggle to preserve Medicaid services and other health programs amid declining state revenues nationwide.
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Connecticut Citizen Action Group: (www.ccag.net) Connecticut Citizen Action Group is Connecticut's oldest and largest government watchdog organization. It is a statewide membership organization dedicated to working with people to bring about social, economic and environmental justice. CCAG has over 20,000 members, and was founded in 1971. Its agenda currently includes a focus on campaign finance reform, its healthy homes initiative, and universal access to health care.
Health Care For All: (www.hcfama.org) Health Care For All is dedicated to making quality and affordable health care accessible to everyone, regardless of income, social or economic status. The goal of HCFA is to empower consumers in Massachusetts to know more about the health care system and become involved in changing it. HCFA is particularly concerned about the most vulnerable members of society -- the uninsured, low-income elders, children, people with disabilities and newcomers to the country. HCFA's work combines policy analysis, information referral, personal and legal advocacy, community organizing and public education.