AbbVie Inc., and its affiliate Bensons Healthcare were ordered to pay $448 million for allegedly reaping more than $1 billion in profits after filing sham lawsuits to keep competitors from launching generic versions of the companies’ top selling testosterone replacement therapy AndroGel.
The companies filed patent lawsuits against Teva Pharmaceuticals USA and Perrigo Co., which were later ruled baseless by U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle. If not for AbbVie and Besins’ efforts, Perrigo could have entered the market in June 2013 with its own generic version of AndroGel.
“The patent attorneys also clearly recognized that the entry of generic versions of AndroGel with their much lower prices would quickly and significantly erode this ideal financial picture,” the judge wrote. “Their reason and motivation for filing these objectively baseless actions against potential competitors was to staunch, at least for a time, this looming reversal of fortune.”
The lawsuit, brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sought disgorgement of profits as well as an injunction barring AbbVie from filing more patent infringement suits in regards to AndroGel. Judge Bartle refused to grant the injunction, finding there was no evidence the company intended to move forward with other sham lawsuits.
AbbVie, along with other testosterone manufacturers, is currently facing thousands of lawsuits from men who say the companies never warned the public that their testosterone replacement therapies could cause life-threatening heart attacks, strokes or blood clots. AbbVie’s AndroGel was the top selling testosterone treatment, fueled by an aggressive marketing campaign that promoted the use of AndroGel directly to consumers. The company has been slapped with multimillion verdicts in at least two of the trials that have been heard.