The FTC filed a complaint in federal district court in September 2014 charging that AbbVie Inc. and its partner Besins Healthcare Inc. illegally blocking American consumers’ access to lower-cost alternatives to Androgel by filing baseless patent infringement lawsuits against potential generic competitors. In a June 2018 decision, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled that AbbVie used sham litigation to illegally maintain its monopoly over the testosterone replacement drug Androgel, and ordered $448 million in monetary relief to consumers who were overcharged for Androgel as a result of AbbVie’s conduct.
In September 2020, the Third Circuit affirmed the district court’s finding of liability on the FTC’s sham litigation claim, and reinstated the reverse payment claim, two important legal victories that protect competition in pharmaceutical markets.
While handing the Commission important legal victories, the Third Circuit reversed the district court’s nearly half-billion dollar monetary judgment for consumers, holding that the FTC is not entitled to disgorgement under 13(b) of the FTC Act. This determination was effectively affirmed by the Supreme Court’s decision in AMG Capital Management v. FTC.
Since the initial filing of the lawsuit, generic AndroGel products have entered the market, so that patients now benefit from competition among multiple suppliers. AbbVie and Teva are also now subject to Commission orders preventing them from entering into certain reverse-payment settlements. On July 30, 2021, the Commission announced that it has withdrawn its reverse-payment claim from federal district court, ending its litigation against AbbVie.