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Pay-to-Delay Could Cost AZ Billions

AstraZeneca potentially could face billions of dollars in damages if it loses its “pay-to-delay” case currently in US. federal court in Boston.

 The case involves a 2008 settlement AstraZeneca reached with India’s Ranbaxy Laboratories to hold off on bringing to market a generic of its heartburn medication Nexium.

 The plaintiffs, which represent pharmacies, wholesalers and consumers, contend AstraZeneca made deals worth about $1 billion to delay the launch until the patent ran out in May 2014, a sum they say amounts to a pay-off that has cost consumers significant sums over time. Drugmakers contend the settlements don’t keep copies from getting to market any sooner than they are slated to and keep costs lower by preventing pointless and unnecessary legal expenses.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission claims there were 40 pay-to-delay settlements in 2012 alone and that they are pushing up costs to consumers and pharmacies by $3.5 billion a year.