BCBS of Louisiana sues J&J subsidiary, alleges it filed sham lawsuits to thwart competition

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana is suing a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, accusing it of  filing "sham" patent litigation to keep generic forms of Zytiga off the shelves to maintain a monopoly on its best-selling prostate cancer drug, according to STAT.

Janssen Biotech, the J&J subsidiary, initially won its patent for Zytiga in 2004. In 2014, the subsidiary won an extension for one patent and was granted another, which extended its protection of the drug until December 2016, according to the lawsuit.

The health insurer claims that Janssen Biotech and its partner, British Technology Group, deceived the U.S.  Patent and Trademark Office when filing one of the patent applications by failing to disclose pertinent information to the office. As a result, the drugmaker was able to fend off generic rivals for longer than it might have otherwise.

The health insurer also claims Jassen filed patent infringement lawsuits against several generic companies and unfairly used patents to delay generic competition.

"Their wrongful conduct delayed generic competition by more than one year, and during that time, Zytiga was among the most profitable drugs sold by Janssen’s parent company, Johnson & Johnson," the lawsuit states, according to STAT. "Absent the sham litigations, one or more Zytiga generics could have been available in December 2016, and would have been available no later than November 2017."

BCBS also claims Janssen  kept generic competition from  the market by creating a network of specialty pharmacies that benefited from rising sales of Zytiga. The drugmaker paid the pharmacy to distribute the medicine, which created an incentive to favor the medication, the lawsuit claims.

Read the full report here.

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