WASHINGTON, D.C.—Abbott Laboratories and two units ofBelgium's Solvay SA have agreed to pay $22.5 million as part of a multi-state settlementover claims that the companies attempted to block generic competition for thecholesterol drug TriCor.
The settlement was announced Jan. 7 by attorneys generalfrom 23 states and the District of Columbia who alleged that Abbott and Solvayunits Fournier Industrie et Sante and Laboratoires Fournier S.A. made minorchanges in TriCor that provided no clinical benefit, in order to manipulatestate drug substitution laws and the industry's drug-identification system. Thedrug accounted for more than $1 billion in sales for Abbott Laboratories.
In the antitrust lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court inDelaware in March 2008, the plaintiffs alleged that pharmacists were unable todispense less expensive generic versions of TriCor as substitutes for the moreexpensive name-brand drug.
"These companies deprived taxpayers, state agencies, andconsumers of a fair marketplace that would have lowered prices by offering lessexpensive generics," said New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in astatement.
The settlement does not represent an admission of liability.
"We agreed to settle the lawsuits to avoid the uncertaintyof ongoing litigation," said Scott Stoffel, a spokesman for Abbott. "Wecontinue to believe our actions were lawful."
States participating in the settlement are: Arizona,Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts,Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New York, NorthCarolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Washington and WestVirginia.
Abbott shares rose 0.7 percent to $54.71 in late-afternoontrading on the New York Stock Exchange.