DiCello Levitt Secures $30M From Novartis To Settle Class Action Over Exforge Antitrust Claims.
In October 2023, DiCello Levitt obtained final approval from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for a $30 million settlement with drugmaker Novartis to resolve a complex antitrust class action involving the hypertension medication Exforge. In this lawsuit, the end-payor plaintiffs alleged monopolization and price-fixing claims against Novartis and Par Pharmaceutical for conspiring to delay the entry of a cheaper generic version of Exforge on the market in a classic “pay-for-delay” agreement.
As Lead Counsel for the plaintiffs, our team argued that the drugmakers’ unlawful agreement restrained competition for Exforge. Under the terms of the agreement, Par agreed to delay entry into the market for Exforge until September 2014 despite having approval to launch a generic version of the drug as early as September 2012. In exchange for Par’s delay, Novartis agreed not to compete in the generics market from September 2014 to March 2015 by not launching its own authorized generic version of Exforge. As a result of this agreement, the drug companies drove up the price of Exforge, and later its generic equivalent, to an artificially high, anticompetitive level.
After nearly five years of intense litigation, we secured the settlement with Novartis on the eve of trial—a significant victory for the plaintiffs, as Par’s parent company had recently filed for bankruptcy, thus eliminating a potential source of recovery.
The pharmaceutical market is highly regulated and structured, and pay-for-delay cases are known for their complexity. Indeed, our team retained over 10 experts in the matter. In addition, the plaintiffs here were indirect purchasers of the drug, a factor that makes cases like this particularly challenging because, under U.S. Supreme Court precedent, they must bring their damages claims under numerous state antitrust and consumer protection laws. The outcome of this case further demonstrates DiCello Levitt’s ability to successfully prosecute this distinctive and thorny niche of anticompetitive conduct, placing us among those rare firms that have the experience, industry knowledge, resources, and relationships with experts to take on the heavy risk and expense of a complex, contingency-based case that could last for many years before being resolved.