Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Stumbo Announces $5.5 Million Settlement in Oral Contraceptive Lawsuit
Attorney General Greg Stumbo today announced the settlement of a civil lawsuit against the makers of the popular oral contraceptive product Ovcon. The lawsuit, jointly filed by thirty-three other states and the District of Columbia, charged Warner Chilcott and Barr Pharmaceuticals with antitrust violations that have prevented generic versions of Ovcon from reaching the marketplace, thereby decreasing competition and inflating consumers’ costs. As part of the settlement, Warner Chilcott will pay a total of $5.5 million to Kentucky and the other litigating states. The litigation against Barr Pharmaceuticals will continue.
“This action sends a message to big pharmaceutical companies that seek to increase their profits at the expense of the free market system,” said Attorney General Stumbo. “Illegal anti-competitive behavior will not be tolerated.”
The civil complaint was filed in 2005 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The suit alleges that Warner Chilcott paid Barr $20 million to keep Barr from marketing a generic version of Ovcon, after Barr publicly announced that it planned to market such a version. According to the lawsuit, Ovcon has been sold in the United States since 1976 as an oral contraceptive, and Warner Chilcott became the exclusive U.S. distributor of Ovcon in early 2000.
The lawsuit alleges that Warner Chilcott paid Barr $1 million in September 2003 for an option agreement designed to prevent Barr’s generic product from coming to market. Under the terms of the alleged agreement, once Barr received FDA approval to market its generic drug, Warner Chilcott had 90 days to pay Barr an additional $19 million so that Barr would refuse to bring the cheaper generic version to the market.
The state attorneys general sought civil penalties and equitable relief. The injunctive relief that was obtained through the settlement will help ensure that Warner Chilcott will not engage in similar conduct in the future, and will bring Kentucky cut of the settlement to slightly more than $102,300. The lawsuit against Barr Pharmaceuticals will continue in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.