The Record
August 21, 2007

STOCKTON – A San Joaquin County Superior Court judge has given preliminary approval to an $8.2 million settlement resolving antitrust claims against three international pharmaceutical companies who sold the hypertension drug Adalat or its generic equivalent.

The case was filed in 2004 by Stockton law firm Herum Crabtree Brown on behalf of Stockton resident Louis Ambrosio, an Adalat consumer.

“Our allegations are that the defendants entered into an agreement in which essentially one company would sell the 30 milligram size of Adalat and one company would sell the 60-milligram size, which means you essentially take competition out of the mix,” said Jennifer Scott, one of the lead attorneys with Herum Crabtree.

“It is illegal to enter into any agreements that would have any impact on competition that result in some sort of price-fixing scheme,” Scott said, citing the Cartwright Act and the Unfair Competition Act of the California Business and Professions Code.

Defendants in the case are Biovail Corp. of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, and its subsidiaries Biovail Technologies Ltd. and Biovail Pharmaceuticals Inc.; Elan Corp. plc of Dublin, Ireland, and its subsidiary Elan Pharmaceuticals Inc.; and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries of Jerusalem and its subsidiary, Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc.

The defendants did not admit they had violated any laws and specifically denied that they fixed prices, according to Scott.

Representatives for Biovail and Teva said Monday their companies would not comment on the case or the preliminary settlement approved Friday. A spokesman for Elan said executives who could comment on the case were unavailable Monday due to travel commitments.

Scott said the lawsuit was filed on behalf of individual patients and businesses such as pharmacies and hospitals that purchased 30 mg or 60 mg Adalat indirectly from distributors rather than directly from the defendants.

Individuals are entitled to split 30 percent of the settlement, capped at $100 per person, according to Scott, while businesses are entitled to split 70 percent. Crabtree Herum and three other law firms working for the plaintiffs have agreed not to seek more than 30 percent of the total award, or $2.46 million of the total $8.2 million.

Since the case did not go to trial, it was never disclosed how many people or businesses might be affected by the case, but it could be in the millions. At least 29 million U.S. residents are on some type of prescription drug for hypertension, Scott said.

Any entity or individual that purchased generic or branded Adalat above the amount of health-insurance co-payments from Oct. 1, 1999, to the present is qualified to submit claim forms by Dec. 17, Scott said.

“This is a good result for companies and consumers who purchased generic or branded Adalat. This is an example of how class actions, properly handled and supervised by the courts, provide benefits to people who would have otherwise received nothing,” Scott said.

Independent Stockton pharmacist Charlie Green, a past president of the American Pharmacists Association, was unaware of the pharmaceutical case occurring in his hometown.

“We know the industry has had problems like this in the past, and every so often something like this is uncovered. It hurts the consumer; it hurts everybody down the line. You want to send the message to the pharmaceutical industry to stop doing this sort of thing,” said Green, owner and CEO of Green Brothers Pharmacy.

Superior Court Judge Carter Holly will conduct a hearing Dec. 3 to determine whether the settlement should receive final approval.

Information: Attorney Jennifer Scott, (209) 472-7700. More information on how to file a claim will be published in Parade and USA Weekend newspaper magazines in mid-September.