Sunlight on Alzheimer|Drug Antitrust Suit

     MANHATTAN (CN) – Blacked-out paragraphs in antitrust complaint accusing Forest Laboratories of illegally squelching generic competition for its $1.5 billion Alzheimer’s drug Namenda will soon face exposure.
     New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman named the Manhattan-based pharmaceutical giant and its parent company, Actavis PLC, in a federal complaint last month slamming its “immoral and unethical” conduct.
     Redactions pockmarking the scathing, 39-page complaint disguised what the company described as its confidential, commercially sensitive information.
     Forest has denied the allegations and hoped to trade on its presumed innocence and need to protect its trade secrets in keeping the concealed information under wraps.
     U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet deferred to nine of company’s 13 requests Tuesday.
     The 18-page ruling hints at the mammoth scope of the probe that the attorney general launched on Feb. 28, 2014.
     Since that time “Forest produced over 1.7 million pages of documents (pursuant to three subpoenas), three executives to provide investigational testimony, written interrogatory responses, and additional items that the Bureau requested informally,” the opinion states (parentheses in original).
     Perhaps boding a labyrinthine legal fight ahead, Sweet said the case involves a “complicated mosaic resulting from the exclusivity granted to patents, the FDA and state regulations, and the complications of competition between branded drugs and generics in the drug industry.”
     Removing lawsuit redactions involves balancing the company’s due-process right and desire to shield documents marked “Highly Confidential” against the public interest, Sweet said.
     Paragraphs related to Forest’s profit projections, internal projections, promotional budget funds and a business plan can remain under wraps. Forest failed to convince the judge as to four other paragraphs.
     Schneiderman alleges six counts of violations, including the Sherman Act and Donnelly Act.
     Forest’s lawyers declined to comment, and the attorney general did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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