Allergan sues Pfizer over legal fees tied to opioid marketing
- Allergan has filed a complaint alleging fellow big pharma Pfizer hasn't lived up to contractual obligations that require it to pay for certain damages related to the marketing and sale of Kadian, an opioid pain medication.
- The chain of ownership around Kadian is complex. It belonged to Alpharma until King Pharmaceuticals acquired the New Jersey-based company in 2008. But to meet antitrust standards, regulators required King offload rights to the drug — ultimately to Actavis. Pfizer later bought King, while Actavis later merged with Allergan. Now, the legal arguments revolve around legacy rights.
- In its complaint, Allergan claims King had agreed to compensate Actavis and its successors for any liabilities stemming from pre-2009 commercialization of Kadian. Allergan is facing hundreds of lawsuits for "deceptive marketing practices" surrounding Kadian, yet the company contends many of the claims relate to Alpharma's sales operations and therefore were out of its and Actavis' control.
Allergan hasn't escaped the backlash, reporting in its latest quarterly filing that it has been named a defendant in about 1,028 legal matters for the promotion and sale of prescription opioid pain relievers, up from around 300 at the end of December.
Regarding Kadian, however, Allergan argues it isn't in the wrong for promotional activities that took place before Actavis took ownership of the drug.
"Even though the complaints explicitly allege wrongful acts by Allergan's 'predecessor' and describe supposedly improper marketing activities dating back to the mid-1990s, Pfizer denies that these cases involve any pre-2009 conduct," Allergan Finance LLC, a subsidiary of the specialty pharma, wrote in the complaint filed on Wednesday with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio Eastern Division.
Allergan claims it notified Pfizer in early November about the legal matters it was facing for the pre-2009 marketing of Kadian. But the big pharma told Allergan later that month it had no obligation to provide compensation for such liabilities, according to the complaint.
Pfizer said it's looking into the lawsuit.
"Allergan's claims relate to a product that Pfizer never manufactured, marketed or sold. Instead they arise from a historical 2008 contract belonging to King Pharmaceuticals, a company we acquired in 2010. We will review Allergan's suit and respond accordingly," Pfizer wrote in an emailed statement to BioPharma Dive.
Allergan is requesting the U.S. District Court make Pfizer cover the costs and legal fees associated with the lawsuits and civil investigations for pre-2009 marketing and sale of Kadian. It's also asking for a declaratory judgment that would require Pfizer to provide compensation for any future liabilities tied to that pre-2009 marketing and sale.
While not broken down item by item, Allergan recorded $132.6 million in litigation-related reserves and legal fees during the second quarter, a 22% increase from the same period a year prior.
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