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In a first-of-its-kind development, the Federal Trade Commission has filed a lawsuit against a drug maker for abusing the citizen’s petition process in order to thwart generic competition to a best-selling medicine.

In the complaint, the agency charged that ViroPharma, which is now owned by Shire, “inundated” the Food and Drug Administration with dozens — 46, to be exact — regulatory and court filings to delay the approval of generic Vancocin capsules. The antibiotic is used to treat intestinal infections caused by C. difficile, which causes watery or bloody diarrhea.

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