Pfizer hits J&J with 1st ever biosimilar antitrust lawsuit: 4 things to know

Pfizer on Wednesday filed an antitrust suit against Johnson & Johnson, claiming the drugmaker's "exclusionary contracts" with insurers and hospitals unfairly blocked competition for J&J's arthritis drug Remicade, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Here are four things to know.

1. Pfizer claims payers Johnson & Johnson offered insurers rebates and other perks to exclusively cover Remicade, thereby preventing them from covering Pfizer's cheaper biosimilar version of the drug.

"We obviously expected competition, but we believe Johnson & Johnson are not competing fairly," John Young, a Pfizer executive managing its biosimilars business, told WSJ.

2. Pfizer is seeking damages to compensate for lost sales of its Remicade biosimilar, Inflectra, and asking the court to void the exclusionary contracts.

3. Johnson & Johnson told WSJ the lawsuit has "no merit," adding that the competition between Remicade and biosimilars is already helping insurers and hospitals to pay less for the drugs.  

"We are effectively competing on value and price, and to date Pfizer has failed to demonstrate sufficient value to patients, providers, payers and employers," Scott White, president of Johnson & Johnson's Janssen Biotech unit, told WSJ.

4. The lawsuit represents the first antitrust action surrounding biosimilar competition.

"If such tactics are widespread, and I suspect they are, the Pfizer case will be the beginning of a wave of cases, challenging a behavior that helps drug companies erect competition-free zones, long after a drug's patent has expired," Robin Feldman, director of the Institute for Innovation Law at the San Francisco-based University of California Hastings, told WSJ.

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