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AstraZeneca, Handa, and Par Pharmaceuticals to Face Seroquel XR Antitrust Lawsuit

On July 5, 2022, the Honorable Colm F. Connolly of the United States District Court for the District of Delaware denied the motion to dismiss an antitrust lawsuit against AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals L.P. and AstraZeneca L.P. (“AstraZeneca”); Handa Pharmaceuticals, LLC (“Handa”); and Par Pharmaceutical, Inc. (“Par”) (collectively, “Defendants”).

The lawsuit alleges that Defendants engaged in monopolistic behavior to delay the production of a generic form of AstraZeneca’s antidepressant drug Seroquel XR (quetiapine fumarate extended-release tablets) (“Seroquel XR”), thereby forcing both pharmaceutical wholesalers (“Direct Purchasers”) and persons and entities (“End-Payors,” and, with the Direct Purchasers, “Plaintiffs”)) to buy the more expensive Seroquel XR, costing purchasers millions of dollars.

More specifically, the Complaint alleges that Defendants were parties to unlawful “reverse payment” agreements to settle certain patent lawsuits which delayed and suppressed competition among sellers of generic versions of Seroquel XR (“Generic(s)”). Rather than allowing Handa’s Generic to enter the market, AstraZeneca proposed a deal in which Handa would delay production of its Generic for up to five years. In return, AstraZeneca (1) agreed not to sell its 50 mg, 150 mg, 200 mg, and 300 mg versions of Seroquel XR during the first 180 days of Handa’s Generic entering the market; and (2) gave Handa the right to buy generic product from AstraZeneca to sell as its own during the same period.

In 2012, Par acquired Handa’s generic drug application and an assignment of the Handa-AstraZeneca settlement agreement.

Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiffs’ claims, arguing that (1) the antitrust claims alleged in the complaint are barred by the statute of limitations; and (2) Plaintiffs failed to adequately plead an antitrust injury.

On July 5, 2022, Judge Conolly issued a 74-page decision largely denying the motion. The Court held that even though the general statute of limitations for such antitrust claims is four years, Defendants’ sales to the Direct Purchasers at supracompetitive prices were independent acts, with each subsequent sale restarting the statute of limitations period. The Court also found for the Plaintiffs on the second issue, reasoning that when “[v]iewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiffs, the Handa-AstraZeneca agreement forced the Direct Purchasers to pay supracompetitive prices and therefore caused them to suffer antitrust injury.”

Miller Shah LLP is co-lead counsel for the End-Payors in this case.

Updates will be posted to this blog as the matter progresses. The case caption is In re Seroquel XR Antitrust Litigation, No. 1:20-cv-01076-CFC, filed in the District of Delaware.

The legal team at Miller Shah LLP has extensive experience representing antitrust matters. If you have any questions regarding this subject or this post, please contact Natalie Finkelman (nfinkelman@millershah.com) or Stephen Rutkowski (strutkowski@millershah.com). The Firm can also be reached toll-free at (866) 540-5505.

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