Three times in recent weeks, a big drug maker sued another for allegedly using illegal tactics to win valuable contracts with payers. In one lawsuit, Pfizer claimed that Johnson & Johnson violated antitrust law when convincing insurers not to cover its biosimilar version of the Remicade rheumatoid arthritis treatment. Then, Shire alleged Medicare Part D plans refused to cover its Xiidra dry-eye treatment, because Allergan used “bundled discounts” and “exclusive” deals to lock down the market. And Sanofi accused Mylan of thwarting its move to sell an EpiPen rival. Drug makers regularly offer discounts to payers, but the lawsuits are drawing new attention to behind-the-scenes dealings. We spoke with Michael Carrier, a Rutgers University School of Law professor who specializes in antitrust matters in the pharmaceutical industry, about the implications.

Drug makers pay rebates and discounts all the time. What is it about these lawsuits that deserves our attention?

These are two of the only lawsuits that seek to pull back the curtain on the hidden and potentially anti-competitive world of drug pricing. They’re raising issues relating to rebates and bundling. In the Pfizer (PFE) lawsuit against J&J (JNJ), Pfizer challenged J&J’s exclusive contracts with insurance companies and health care providers. They also challenged bundling by which the insurers and health care providers were encouraged to group J&J products together, which made it harder for Pfizer to compete.

Unlock this article by subscribing to STAT Plus and enjoy your first 30 days free!


What is it?

STAT Plus is STAT's premium subscription service for in-depth biotech, pharma, policy, and life science coverage and analysis. Our award-winning team covers news on Wall Street, policy developments in Washington, early science breakthroughs and clinical trial results, and health care disruption in Silicon Valley and beyond.

What's included?

  • Daily reporting and analysis
  • The most comprehensive industry coverage from a powerhouse team of reporters
  • Subscriber-only newsletters
  • Daily newsletters to brief you on the most important industry news of the day
  • Online intelligence briefings
  • Frequent opportunities to engage with veteran beat reporters and industry experts
  • Exclusive industry events
  • Premium access to subscriber-only networking events around the country
  • The best reporters in the industry
  • The most trusted and well-connected newsroom in the health care industry
  • And much more
  • Exclusive interviews with industry leaders, profiles, and premium tools, like our CRISPR Trackr.

Leave a Comment

Please enter your name.
Please enter a comment.

Your daily dose of news in health and medicine

Privacy Policy