Lawsuit Accuses Wyeth of Monopoly through Illegal Patents

A New York-based retail pharmacy has filed a federal lawsuit that alleges pharmaceutical company Wyeth profited immensely by misrepresenting clinical data to retain monopoly over a highly popular drug used to treat psychiatric conditions.

The lawsuit has been filed by Uniondale Chemists Inc. in the U.S. District Court in Mississippi. The lawsuit claims that Wyeth, which is now part of Pfizer, fraudulently obtained three patents on extended release versions of its highly-popular Effexor drug. Effexor is used to treat depression and anxiety, and contains the drug venlafaxine hydrochloride.

According to the lawsuit, Wyeth’s patent on Effexor expired in 2008. However, the company used fraudulent means to capture the Effexor market after those original patents had expired. The lawsuit alleges that Wyeth misrepresented facts when it claimed that it unexpectedly came across the extended-release formula to secure additional patents.

The lawsuit claims that as a result of the company’s exclusionary tactics, generic forms of Effexor XR were blocked from the marketplace between June 2008 and June 2010. According to the lawsuit, Uniondale Chemists paid artificially inflated prices for the extended-release venlafaxine hydrochloride. During this period of time, sales of Effexor in the American market reached $4.5 billion. The lawsuit is seeking class-action status for companies like Uniondale Chemists that suffered losses due to Wyeth’s alleged illegal and unethical conduct.

Pfizer has denied any wrongdoing. According to a statement by the company, it denies all claims related to the Effexor XR patents.

The lawsuit also has some tough words for the Food and Drug Administration which, as California business dispute lawyers know, depends heavily on a brand-name manufacturer’s account to verify the validity of patents. The agency does not have the authority to independently check the manufacturer’s data and verify its accuracy.