DENVER – Attorney General John Suthers today announced the settlement of a civil law enforcement action against drug company Barr Pharmaceuticals. Colorado will receive a civil penalty of $100,000 – the maximum allowed by state law – as well as $200,000 in attorneys’ fees for its position as the lead state in the lawsuit.
The suit, which was joined by thirty-three other states and the District of Columbia, charged Barr Pharmaceuticals and Warner Chilcott with antitrust violations that prevented generic versions of Ovcon, a prescription oral contraceptive, from reaching the marketplace. The Attorney General settled the lawsuit against Warner Chilcott for $5.5 million in 2007.
The original civil complaint was filed in 2005 in U.S. District Court. The lawsuit alleged that Warner Chilcott paid Barr $20 million to keep Barr from marketing a generic version of Ovcon, which has been sold in the United States since 1976. Warner Chilcott became the exclusive U.S. distributor of Ovcon in early 2000. In 2003, Barr publicly announced that it planned to have a generic version of Ovcon on the market by the end of that year. The lawsuit alleged that Warner Chilcott paid Barr $1 million in September 2003 for an option agreement designed to prevent Barr’s generic product from coming to market. Under the terms of the alleged agreement, once Barr received FDA approval to market generic Ovcon, Warner Chilcott had 90 days to pay Barr $19 million, after which Barr would refuse to bring the cheaper generic version to the market.
Because this lawsuit was filed as a law enforcement action, the states sought civil penalties and equitable relief. The relief that was obtained through the settlement will help ensure that these companies will not engage in similar conduct in the future.