Months after other pharmacy retailers took legal action, Rite Aid Corp. and CVS Caremark Corp. are suing Pfizer Inc. for allegedly conspiring with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. to delay the release of generic versions of the antidepressant Effexor XR.


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Rite Aid, CVS join in legal wrangle over Effexor generics

June 14th, 2012

NEW YORK – Months after other pharmacy retailers took legal action, Rite Aid Corp. and CVS Caremark Corp. are suing Pfizer Inc. for allegedly conspiring with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. to delay the release of generic versions of the antidepressant Effexor XR.

Rite Aid and CVS Caremark filed an antitrust lawsuit this week in U.S. District Court in Trenton, N.J., that accuses Pfizer's Wyeth unit and Teva of colluding to keep generics of Effexor XR (venlafaxine extended-release) off the market for at least two years after its patent expired in 2008, according to published reports.

The drug chains claim in the case, Rite Aid Corp. et al v. Wyeth Inc., that they ended up overpaying for Effexor XR because of the alleged collusion by Wyeth and Teva.

Reports said the suit charges that Wyeth obtained fraudulent patents, engaged in feigned patent litigation against Teva and 16 other generic pharmaceutical firms, and conspired with Teva to prolong its generic exclusivity for the drug in order to forestall the introduction of other Effexor XR generics. The chains said in the suit that U.S. sales of Effexor XR exceeded $2.5 billion annually during that time span.

In December, Walgreen Co., Kroger Co., Safeway Inc., Supervalu Inc. and H-E-B Grocery Co. filed an antitrust suit charging that Wyeth (acquired by Pfizer in 2009) and Teva schemed to delay the rollout of Effexor XR generics. The case, Walgreen v. Wyeth, was filed in the same court and makes similar claims, which Pfizer and Teva have denied, reports said.

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