Actavis Ordered To Keep Selling Alzheimer's Pill

Published: Dec 12, 2014

Actavis Ordered To Keep Selling Alzheimer's Pill
December 12, 2014
By Jessica Wilson, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

Actavis today confirmed that a U.S. federal judge has issued an injunction requiring the company to continue distributing its Alzheimer’s drug Namenda.

Judge Robert Sweet of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (New York City) yesterday issued the decision, which was sealed because it contained confidential information. Both Actavis and New York’s attorney general, who brought the suit against Actavis that led to the decision, have confirmed that the injunction stops Actavis from discontinuing sales of Namenda while the case is being decided.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed an antitrust lawsuit against Actavis in September. The suit claims the company is forcing patients to switch from an older version of Namenda, which is set to go generic in 2015, to a newer version, which will not go generic for several more years.

“Today’s decision prevents Actavis from pursuing its scheme to block competition and maintain its high drug prices,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Our lawsuit against Actavis sends a clear message: drug companies cannot illegally prioritize profits over patients. We will continue to protect New Yorkers from anticompetitive practices by drug manufacturers.”

The practice referred to is know as a "forced switch," meant to transfer existing patients to a new, only slightly different, drug as quickly as possible to head off the loss of sales when the old drug becomes generic.

When the original drug goes generic, “patients are already on the new product and there's no existing product left,” David Maris, a stock analyst with BMO Capital Markets who covers pharmaceuticals, told CBS News. “All of a sudden you don't have that cliff, you don't have a drop off in sales like you would otherwise,” Maris said.

The drug in question, Namenda, is a twice-daily medication for the treatment of symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. The new drug, Namenda XR, is a once-daily treatment that Actavis refers to as “more convenient and innovative.”

“We are disappointed by today's unprecedented ruling. However, we are prepared to manage our business in a way that provides the least disruption in our ability to support the marketplace and minimize any financial impact on our company," CEO and President of Actavis Brent Saunders said in a statement. The company said it would immediately appeal the decision.

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