Antitrust Update Blog

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Antitrust Update Blog is a source of insights, information and analysis on criminal and civil antitrust and competition-related issues. Patterson Belknap’s antitrust lawyers represent clients in antitrust litigation and counseling matters, including those related to pricing, marketing, distribution, franchising, and joint ventures and other strategic alliances. We have significant experience with government civil and criminal/cartel investigations, providing the unique perspectives of former top U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division lawyers from both the civil and criminal sides.

Supreme Court Finds that Regulatory Boards Composed of “Active Market Participants” are Subject to Antitrust Laws if Not Actively Supervised by the State

Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued its ruling in North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC, finding that North Carolina’s state board of dental examiners was subject to antitrust scrutiny under the Sherman Act and Federal Trade Commission Act. In reaching that decision, the court found that a state agency composed of “active market participants”—here, a board responsible for supervising the practice of dentistry composed primarily of practicing dentists—was not immune to federal antitrust laws as a sovereign actor unless the state “actively supervised” that agency. The Court left open, however, just what sort of active supervision might be required.

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Court Rules Against American Express Based on Both Direct and Indirect Evidence of Harm to Competition

On February 19, 2015, the District Court for the Eastern District of New York issued its ruling on liability in United States v. American Express. Following a seven-week trial, the Court found that American Express violated Section 1 of the Sherman Act by imposing certain restrictions on merchants that prevent the merchants from offering their customers incentives to use competing credit cards with lower retail charges. 

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Court Allows “Product Hopping” Claims to Proceed in Suboxone Litigation Based on Allegations of Removal of Prior Formulation and Disparagement of Generic Competition

We’ve previously discussed antitrust claims related to “product hopping”—allegations that pharmaceutical manufacturers have reformulated or otherwise altered their products to prevent automatic generic substitution. Earlier this week, the district court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in In re Suboxone Antitrust Litigation denied a motion to dismiss similar allegations regarding the drug Suboxone, which is used to treat opioid dependence. 

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A New Suit Alleges “Product Hopping” Theory

Previously, we discussed a recent lawsuit that alleged “product hopping” by a brand pharmaceutical manufacturer as part of a broader pay-for-delay claim. On Monday, the New York Attorney General filed a suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York regarding Forest Laboratories’s Alzheimer’s drug Namenda, in which alleged product hopping plays the central role.

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Recent Suit Includes “Product Hopping” Theory in Pay for Delay Claim

The Pennsylvania Employees Benefit Trust Fund (“PEBTF”) recently filed a purported class-action antitrust complaint relating to the brand name drug Opana ER, an extended-release formulation of a medication used to treat pain and other conditions. The core of PEBTF’s allegations are that the brand manufacturer paid more than $100 million to prevent the launch of a generic version for approximately two and a half years. But PEBTF also alleges that the manufacturer reduced generic competition even further by introducing a crush-resistant version of the drug (which helps prevent abuse) called Opana ER CRF.

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FTC Submits Amicus in Mylan v. Celgene, Citing Potential Refusal to Deal Concerns

The FTC has submitted an amicus brief in Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. Celgene Corp., 2:14-CV-2094 (D.N.J.), offering support in favor of Mylan’s claims. Mylan sued Celgene in April 2014, bringing claims related to its attempts to develop generic versions of Revlimid and Thalomid, brand drugs used to treat certain forms of cancer. 

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FTC Looks to Impact on Generic Competition in Ruling on Actavis Acquisition of Forest Laboratories

On June 30, 2014, the FTC announced in a series of orders that it would consent to Actavis PLC’s acquisition of Forest Laboratories only under certain conditions. Under a February 2014 Merger Agreement, Actavis plans to acquire Forest for approximately $25 billion. The FTC filed a complaint alleging that the proposed merger would negatively impact the market for four drugs, resulting in violations of Section 7 of the Clayton Act and Section 5 of the FTC Act.

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