Six retailers charge Wyeth, Teva with unlawfully delaying generic Effexor XR

TRENTON, N.J. — Six retailers on Wednesday filed suit naming Wyeth and Teva Pharmaceuticals as defendants and alleging that the defendants unlawfully delayed the entry of generic versions of Wyeth's antidepressant Effexor XR (venlafaxine). A summons was issued to Wyeth and Teva on Thursday.

The retailers include Ahold USA, H-E-B, Kroger, Safeway, Supervalu and Walgreens. The companies are suing for three-times damages plus attorneys fees.

Wyeth was acquired by Pfizer in October 2009.

"Although Wyeth’s marketing exclusivity for the original compound patent for Effexor XR lapsed on June 13, 2008, the first generic equivalent was foreclosed for two more years, until July 2010, and other generics (including Wyeth’s authorized generic) remained foreclosed until June 2011," wrote the plaintiffs in a 79-page complaint. The suit alleged that Wyeth fraudulently procured three patents for extended-release formulations of venlafaxine hydrochloride and engaged in "serial sham litigation" to block and delay generic entry. The suit further alleged that Wyeth colluded with Teva to delay generic introduction of the antidepressant by Teva.

For the nine months ended Oct. 2, Pfizer reported $537 million in Effexor XR sales, down 64.5% as compared with the nine months ended Oct. 3, 2010.

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