Pfizer sues Johnson & Johnson for violating USA antitrust laws over Remicade biosimilar

Pfizer sues Johnson & Johnson for violating USA antitrust laws over Remicade biosimilar”

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer filed a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson on Wednesday, accusing it of anti-competitive practices and inappropriately excluding biosimilar competitors.

First approved in 1998, J&J's tumor necrosis factor-inhibiting biologic is used to treat a range of immune-mediated diseases in nearly 500,000 Americans, including for Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and plaque psoriasis and has been hauling in billions for J&J (about $4.8 billion in United States sales in 2016).

Analysts here are positive that Celltrion's biosimilar Inflectra will expand its footing in the USA as its marketing partner Pfizer is taking on original drug maker Johnson & Johnson.

"J&J's aggressive measures to counter Pfizer shows its strong willingness for biosimilar market expansion", Meritz Securities analyst Lee Tae-young said.

"J&J's exclusionary plan has been remarkably effective at stifling competition: Today, nearly no national commercial health insurer provides coverage for Inflectra (except under the spurious "fail first" scenario), and the vast bulk of healthcare provider accounts using infliximab (approximately 90 percent) have not purchased Inflectra at all". In the second quarter, Pfizer reported that Inflectra sales stood at US$230 million, missing market expectations.

Pfizer claims that Johnson & Johnson threatened to withhold rebates from insurers who claimed Inflectra was an acceptable alternative to Remicade, and offered discounts on Remicade to those insurers who agreed not to carry Pfizer's product - thereby causing the insurers to change their initial direction.

Pfizer alleged J&J signed contracts with United States health insurers that denied patients access to competitors including Pfizer's biosimilar, a rival drug that regulators approved as a generic substitute.

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