Pfizer Inc. and two of its subsidiaries have agreed to pay $345 million to settle lawsuits related to allegations of anticompetitive pricing and marketing of EpiPen auto-injectors.
Pfizer and the plaintiffs on July 15 asked a U.S. federal court in Kansas City to accept the settlement in the long-running class action. If the settlement goes ahead, it would end consumer litigation related to EpiPens against Pfizer and its subsidiaries Meridian Medical Technologies and King Pharmaceuticals. Numerous cases were brought against Pfizer as the manufacturer, as well as against Mylan NV (now Viatris), which markets the EpiPen.
Mylan/Viatris still faces trial in January 2022 over antitrust claims, although U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Crabtree in late June dismissed most racketeering and antitrust claims against the drug marketer.
Rex Sharp, one of the attorneys representing the consumer plaintiffs, said in an email to the Kansas City NPR affiliate that his clients were pleased with the proposed settlement. He also said he looks forward to pursuing the remaining claims against Mylan.
Pfizer Denies Wrongdoing
While Pfizer agrees to settle, the company denies any wrongdoing. A company spokesperson wrote in an email to Allergic Living: “This resolution reflects a desire by the company to avoid the distraction of continued litigation and focus on breakthroughs that change patients’ lives.”
Back in 2016, Mylan in particular faced relentless pressure over the pricing of the EpiPen after it came to light that the list price for a set of two of the life-saving devices had climbed to $600. That was an increase of more than 500 percent from 2008. The controversy was dubbed “Epigate,” and former CEO Heather Bresch was summoned to testify at a congressional committee to justify the steep increases in the cost of the lifesaving auto-injectors.
The legal action has centered on pricing and rebating strategies with pharmacy benefits managers and whether EpiPen makers and marketers engaged in antitrust practices to control the epinephrine auto-injector market. It was a big win for Viatris when Judge Crabtree dismissed most of those charges, except for the issue of whether (the former) Mylan and Israeli drugmaker Teva coordinated efforts to delay the launch of a competing generic auto-injector.
The proposed settlement with Pfizer comes about following what the plaintiffs’ representatives describe as “four years of vigorous litigation.” The two sides worked alongside an experienced and independent mediator. The plaintiff attorneys say in a court document that “the agreement represents an outstanding recovery of $345 million” for the consumers who signed on to be part of the class action.
– with files from Mariam Matti