Drug Reimport Suit Dismissed

September 6, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit by a senior citizen advocacy group that charged that major US drug companies violated antitrust laws by making it tougher for US consumers to get drugs from Canada.

US District Judge Joan Ericksen of the US District Court for the District of Minnesota also turned away charges that the pharmaceutical firms violated state antitrust laws and were guilty of unjust enrichment.

The suit, filed in US. District Court in Minneapolis by the Minnesota Senior Federation in May 2004, alleged that the drug companies were acting illegally by limiting or threatening to limit supplies to Canadian pharmacies suspected of reimporting their products into the United States.

Nine pharmaceutical companies were named in the lawsuit:

  • Pfizer Inc.
  • GlaxoSmithKline P.L.C.
  • Abbott Laboratories Inc.
  • AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals L.P.
  • Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH
  • Eli Lilly & Co.
  • Merck & Co.
  • Novartis AG
  • Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs, William Kane of Miller Faucher and Cafferty L.L.P. based in Philadelphia, said the organization is reviewing its legal options, which include appealing the decision or refiling the claims in other jurisdictions.

Under the US Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, it is illegal for anyone other than the original manufacturer to reimport prescription drugs into the United States. However, the 2003 federal Medicare prescription drug law allows the secretary of Health and Human Services to issue waivers to individuals for drug reimportation if safety standards are met.

State and local government agencies have flocked to the idea of reimporting less expensive pharmaceutical drugs to shave costs from their health-care coverage spending.

The opinion is here .