Federal judge dismisses racketeering charges against AbbVie, Abbott
- U.S. District Court Judge Robert Dow on Thursday evening dismissed claims by the New England Carpenters Health and Welfare Fund that Abbott and AbbVie forced health plans to pay unnecessary, steep prices for brand names Humira and AndroGel instead of cheaper generics.
- Plaintiffs claimed that the companies colluded with pharmacies and other third parties to provide special savings cards and coupons in order to lower customers' co-pays for the pricey drugs, thereby boosting sales.
- AbbVie is currently being charged in the FTC's first-ever "pay-for-delay" lawsuit for allegedly delaying entry of generic AndroGel alternatives into the market.
"While the amended complaint includes some allegations of cooperation between pharmacies and the co-pay subsidy administrators, it falls short of indicating that pharmacies processed savings cards in a fraudulent manner in order to further the distinct goals of an enterprise, separate and apart from the pharmacies' business," wrote Dow in his decision.
AbbVie and Abbott have dodged a major bullet, since plaintiffs were seeking triple damages under the federal RICO racketeering law. Still, federal regulators and health plans will be keeping an eye on companies that get too creative with their sales-boosting techniques, especially as the FTC feels more confident in pursuing pay-for-delay lawsuits after last year's Supreme Court decision condemning the arrangements.