Pause Lifted on Sweeping Pharmaceutical Discovery Order

WASHINGTON (CN) — The Supreme Court allowed discovery to go forward Friday in sweeping antitrust litigation that accuses pharmaceutical companies of fixing generic drug prices.

The order from the full court lifts a stay from last week in which Justice Samuel Alito temporary sided with 35 drug companies that say they should not be forced to produce nonresponsive documents when disclosing records for the suit.

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Per its custom, the court did not explain its reasoning for denying the stay.

The complex litigation against Actavis, Mylan, Teva and the other drug companies involves 54 states, territories and Washington, D.C., as well as private citizens and companies.

U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe, who has been overseeing the consolidated litigation in Philadelphia for the last four years, ordered the discovery in October as part of a broader case management order.

The companies sought relief from the Third Circuit, but the appeals court denied their request in December and refused to reconsider the case en banc.

In filings asking for a stay from the high court, the drug companies attacked the discovery order as unnecessarily broad and potentially exposing information not crucial to the case.

Those pressing the claims opposed the request, saying the companies could no longer be trusted to withhold documents based on relevance when they abused a previous court order that allowed them to “claw back” documents within 30 days.

The Connecticut Attorney General’s Office led the case at the Supreme Court and Elizabeth Benton, a spokeswoman for the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office, praised the decision on Friday.

“We are pleased the U.S. Supreme Court has vacated its temporary stay, and will allow full discovery to proceed immediately,” Benton said in a statement. “In conjunction with our partner states and territories, we continue to prepare this case for trial.”

The drug companies are represented at the Supreme Court by Steffen Johnson with the firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati. Johnson did not immediately return a request for comment on the court’s decision.

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