PHILADELPHIA (CN) – Cephalon conspired with other drug makers to delay generic competition for its blockbuster drug Provigil, pharmacy chains say in a federal antitrust class action. Rite-Aid, Eckerd, Brooks and CVS Caremark sued Cephalon and generic drug manufacturers Mylan, Barr, Teva, and Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals, claiming Cephalon bought more time for its “wakefulness promoting agent” by paying more than $200 million to generic manufacturers in four patent settlements.
The pharmacies say that had not Cephalon taken steps to “destroy the market for generic Provigil and the potential benefits to consumers from generic entry,” generic versions of the drug could have been available by January 2006.
Sales for Provigil, Cephalon’s flagship drug, hit nearly $1 billion in 2008. It is prescribed for sleep apnea and narcolepsy, to help people stay awake. It’s become a popular drug on college campuses, where students use it as a high-class form of “speed” to study.
The class action is the latest in a number of similar claims filed in Philadelphia. Since April 2006, other plaintiffs include private health care providers, health care co-operatives, pension funds such as the Pennsylvania Employees Benefit Trust Fund, and the Federal Trade Commission.
The latest class action was filed by Steve Shadowen with Hangley & Aronchick. The pharmacies demand treble damages and an injunction.