Judge Shrinks Case Over Painkiller Patch Delay

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A federal judge further winnowed state-law claims by unions nationwide alleging that a settlement of patent claims for the painkiller patch Lidoderm kept a generic version off the market.
     Unions and other groups from across the United States sued drugmakers Endo, Teikoku Seiyaku and Watson Pharmaceuticals in various federal courts, claiming violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act as well as state antitrust and consumer laws and common-law unjust enrichment. The actions were consolidated into a multidistrict litigation case being heard by U.S. District Judge William Orrick in San Francisco.
     The drugmakers unsuccessfully lobbied Orrick in late 2014 to dismiss the action, although the judge did dump a number of state-law, consumer-protection claims made by groups who purchased Lidoderm on behalf of their members.
     On Tuesday, Orrick thinned out more of the state-law claims. In some cases, the judge found that states hadn’t passed repealer statutes and said the unions could not rely on generic consumer-law statutes to make their cases.
     Some states – including Maine, Montana and the District of Columbia – don’t consider unions to be “consumers” for their consumer-protection laws, Orrick said.
     In other cases, the drugmakers’ actions were either not fraudulent or deceptive or did not rise to the level of unconscionable under those states’ laws.
     Claims made by unions in New York and North Carolina remained standing after Orrick’s ruling, as did the few states that allow unjust enrichment actions.

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