Abbott settles antitrust suit over TriCor for $184M

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Abbott Laboratories has agreed to pay $184 million to settle claims filed in a U.S. federal court that it allegedly violated antitrust laws regarding its anti-cholesterol drug TriCor, according to Nov. 18 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The initial complaint was filed by Teva and Impax, as well as wholesalers and distributors, who alleged that Abbott and Solvay introduced new formulations of the compound with only minor differences as a means of extending patent exclusivity. In March, 18 states filed an antitrust lawsuit against Abbott, stating that the company blocked generic competition for its popular TriCor.

Abbott said it will record a one-time charge related to the settlement in the fourth quarter of this year. Neil Hirsch, a spokesperson for the Brussels, Belgium-based Solvay, refused to disclose the drugmaker’s portion of the settlement, but suggested that it would not affect its year-end financial outlook.

While Forbes reported that the other TriCor (fenofibrate) suits filed by state attorney generals, insurance companies and consumers remain outstanding, Abbott said that this action represents the bulk of the lawsuits.

Melissa Brotz, spokesperson for the Abbott Park, Ill.-based company, said that the settlements were reached “to avoid the uncertainty of a trial outcome.” However, Abbott denied any wrongdoing as part of the agreement. “We continue to believe that our actions were lawful. New formulations of Tricor have provided patients with innovation in use, dosing and convenience, and no company has a monopoly on treating patients with high cholesterol," Brotz said.

Abbott said it has filed for FDA approval of the new generation of the treatment, which would be marketed as TriLipix, and anticipates a decision from the FDA by the end of the year.

TriCor generated US sales of $1.2 billion in 2007.