Kaiser Health Plan sues Merck over cholesterol drugs

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Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Foundation Health Plan has filed a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies Merck & Co. and Glenmark over cholesterol drugs Zetia and Vytorin, the San Francisco Business Times reported July 28.

Kaiser alleged it would have saved hundreds of millions of dollars if Merck had not delayed Glenmarck's manufacturing of the drugs' generic alternatives.

The case is the latest example of "pay-for-delay" deals in which "drug companies claim the deals protect sacred drug patents that set up monopolies that help them recover their research and development costs," the Times said.

Health insurers argue the settlements create unnecessary costs to members by preventing generic drug alternatives from being introduced to consumers sooner.

Merck did not return the Times' request for comment.

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