Kansas court preliminarily approves Viatris' $264M EpiPen settlement
A federal court has signed off on a settlement that will see Viatris pay $264 million to resolve claims that it conspired with Pfizer to “monopolize the market” for life-saving EpiPens.
Kansas Judge Daniel Crabtree preliminarily agreed to the settlement on Friday, paving the way for a final approval that won’t come until at least the second half of the year. A fairness hearing will take place on July 6, according to court documents.
The case dates back to 2017, when plaintiffs filed a complaint alleging Viatris — created out of the merger of Upjohn and Mylan — “devised an illegal scheme” to prevent EpiPen competitors from coming to market. The company has been under heavy fire since 2016, when the price of two EpiPens surged to $608, up from $100 in 2007.
“As a result, millions of Americans relying on this life-saving device have paid exorbitant prices for EpiPens that are in no way tethered to or constrained by a competitive market,” an amended complaint states.
The complaint accuses both Mylan and Pfizer, which manufactured the EpiPen, of engaging in anti-competitive conduct that created a monopoly.
The “scheme” consisted of multiple parts, plaintiffs said, alleging that the defendants: misclassified EpiPen under Medicaid’s Medical Drug Rebate Program; offered aggressive rebates and incentives to pharmacy benefit managers conditioned on excluding competitors from the market; offered free EpiPens to schools through its Access to Schools program, on the exclusion of competitor products; created a patent thicket; and asserted that EpiPens should be sold solely in two-packs, driving up cost.
These actions “endangered the lives of millions of Americans,” the amended complaint alleges.
“It is also time to send a message that the law will not tolerate the fraudulent and anticompetitive actions of America’s pharmaceutical giants,” the document states.
Then-Mylan CEO Heather Bresch, daughter of Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, left the company after the merger in 2020. But she vigorously defended the price increase before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, saying, “Price and access exist in a balance, and we believe we have struck that balance.”
Viatris has denied any wrongdoing, but agreed to pay $264 million to resolve the cases pending in the US District Court for the District of Kansas.
“The Board of Directors believes that this settlement is in the best interests of the Company and its stakeholders. The resolution of these indirect purchaser cases will allow the Company to move forward and continue focusing on its strategic priorities,” it said last month.
Crabtree dismissed much of the case against Mylan last June, leaving only a claim concerning a 2012 patent litigation settlement with generic drugmaker Teva. Pfizer also struck a $345 million settlement last year.