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Union Files Antitrust Lawsuit Alleging Pfizer Subsidiary Blocked Generic Drug

March 20, 2002 – A New York City-based union health benefit fund announced March 18 it has filed an antitrust class action lawsuit alleging Pfizer Inc. and its subsidiary Warner Lambert Co. maintained “sham patent infringement lawsuits” to delay and prevent generic competition for its epilepsy drug Neurontin (Health and Benefit Trust Fund of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 94, 94A, 94B v. Pfizer Inc., S.D.N.Y., No. 02CV1845, 3/7/02).

The lawsuit was filed March 7 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by the Health and Benefit Trust Fund of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 94.

Operating Engineers Local 94 President Michael A. Carney said the fund is filing the lawsuit “not only because we have a fiduciary duty to our members and our fund to do so, but because our members and their families are tired of being ripped off by big companies charging illegally inflated prices and making obscene profits.” He said other union health and welfare funds and private insurers have indicated they may join the lawsuit.

Specifically, the complaint alleged that the defendants violated federal and state antitrust laws and deceptive practice statutes by preventing generic manufacturers, including Purepac Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Apotex Inc., from competing in the market for Neurontin.

Since Pfizer’s acquisition of Warner-Lambert in June 2000, Pfizer has maintained “sham patent infringement lawsuits against its potential horizontal competition for Neurontin,” the complaint said.

The fund is being represented by the firms HACH & ROSE, LLP and Zwerling, Schacter & Zwerling, LLP.

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