Providence sues Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals, citing product monopoly

By Carol Ostrow | Apr 9, 2015


The city of Providence, R.I., brought a class action complaint against a large British pharmaceutical manufacturer, alleging violation of the Sherman Act beginning in 2012.

The city filed the civil antitrust action on March 26 against Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceutical Inc., Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC and Individior PLC, all of London, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, claiming unfair competition.

According to court documents, Reckitt used anti-competitive practices in an effort to monopolize the market for Suboxone, or co-formulated buprenorphine hydrochloride and naloxone hydrochloride dehydrate in an effort to prevent a more affordable generic substitute to enter the market in May 2012.

The plaintiff, a self-insured health and welfare benefit plan, provides reimbursement for prescription drugs including the defendant’s Suboxone. It claims that the defendant has been overpricing the product to the detriment of class members. Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that Reckitt tried to impede the May 2012 scheduled introduction of a less expensive generic formulation of the medication.

The allegations examine the product’s formulation and safety, patent laws, FDA regulations and its overall effect on commerce. Contending that Reckitt willfully implemented an anti-competitive scheme for the purpose of monopoly and unjust enrichment, the plaintiff cites artificially inflated prices, and unfair and deceptive trade practices.

The city seeks injunctive and declaratory relief; compensatory and/or treble, multiple, punitive and other damages; attorneys’ fees; and court costs. The plaintiff is represented by John Macorett and Jeffrey Kodroff of Spector, Roseman, Kodroff and Willis of Philadelphia, and Michael Buchman of Motley, Rice in New York.

U.S. District Court Eastern District of Pennsylvania case no. 2:15-cv-01621-MSG.

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