In documents filed Thursday in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas, the New York-based Pfizer and its subsidiaries – Maryland-based Meridian Medical Technologies Inc. and Tennessee-based King Pharmaceuticals – asked the court to grant preliminary approval to the settlement, Kansas City’s NPR station KCUR-FM reported.
The litigation dates to 2016, when numerous class-action lawsuits were filed around the country alleging that the companies engaged in anticompetitive conduct related to EpiPen. The cases were transferred to the Kansas court because of its centralized location.
Mylan, a Pennsylvania-based company that is also a defendant in the litigation, owns the rights to the EpiPen brand, but the devices are manufactured by Pfizer.
EpiPens, which are auto-injectable devices that deliver the drug epinephrine, are used for emergency treatment of a life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.
When Mylan acquired the right to market and distribute the devices in 2007, an EpiPen package cost about $100. Today, it costs more than $650 without pharmacy coupons or manufacturer discounts.
The proposed settlement comes three weeks after U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree dismissed most of the claims against Mylan. But he allowed other antitrust claims against the company to proceed to trial, which is scheduled to begin Sept. 7.
A Pfizer spokesperson denied any wrongdoing in an e-mail to KCUR, saying the resolution reflects a desire by the company to avoid “the distraction of continued litigation and focus on breakthroughs that change patients’ lives.”
Rex Sharp, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said his clients were pleased that Pfizer had agreed to the settlement, noting it would still need the court’s approval. He said they look forward to going to trial on the remaining claims against Mylan.
When Crabtree dismissed most of the claims against Mylan, he also granted a summary judgment to Mylan’s former CEO, Heather Bresch, the daughter of Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Most of the price hikes occurred during her tenure. She stepped down in 2020 following Mylan’s merger with Pfizer’s Upjohn unit to form Pennsylvania-based Viatris.
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