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1-800 Contacts, Inc, In the Matter of

The FTC filed an administrative complaint charging that 1-800 Contacts, the largest online retailer of contact lenses in the United States, unlawfully orchestrated a web of anticompetitive agreements with rival online contact lens sellers that suppress competition in certain online search advertising auctions and that restrict truthful and non-misleading internet advertising to consumers. According to the administrative complaint, 1-800 Contacts entered into bidding agreements with at least 14 competing online contact lens retailers that eliminate competition in auctions to place advertisements on the search results page generated by online search engines such as Google and Bing. The complaint alleges that these bidding agreements unreasonably restrain price competition in internet search auctions, and restrict truthful and non-misleading advertising to consumers, constituting an unfair method of competition in violation of federal law.

Type of Action
Administrative
Last Updated
FTC Matter/File Number
141 0200
Docket Number
9372

Surescripts LLC

The FTC sued the health information company Surescripts, alleging that the company employed illegal vertical and horizontal restraints in order to maintain its monopolies over two electronic prescribing, or “e-prescribing,” markets: routing and eligibility.  According to the complaint, Surescripts monopolized two separate markets for e-prescription services: The market for routing e-prescriptions, which uses technology that enables health care providers to send electronic prescriptions directly to pharmacies; and the market for determining eligibility, a separate service that enables health care providers to electronically determine patients’ eligibility for prescription coverage through access to insurance coverage and benefits information, usually through a pharmacy benefit manager.The FTC alleges that Surescripts intentionally set out to keep e-prescription routing and eligibility customers on both sides of each market from using additional platforms (a practice known as multihoming) using anticompetitive exclusivity agreements, threats, and other exclusionary tactics. Among other things, the FTC alleges that Surescripts took steps to increase the costs of routing and eligibility multihoming through loyalty and exclusivity contracts.

Type of Action
Federal
Last Updated
FTC Matter/File Number
141 0210

Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc., et al. (FTC v. Actavis)

On 2/2/2009, the Commission filed a complaint in federal district court challenging and agreement between Solvay Pharmaceuticals and two generic drug manufacturers in which Solvay paid for the delayed release of generic equivalents to its own testosterone-replacement drug, AndroGel, typically used in the treatment of men with low testosterone levels due to advanced age, certain cancers, and HIV/AIDS. According to the Commission’s complaint, in an effort to prevent Watson Pharmaceuticals and Par Pharmaceuticals from acquiring patents for their competing testosterone replacement drugs, Solvay paid the companies to delay entry for a nine year period, ending in 2015. 

This case was transferred from the United States District Court for the Central District of California to the Northern District of Georgia.  The district court dismissed the Commission's complaint, and the Eleventh Circuit affirmed, holding that anticompetitive effects within the scope of patent protection are per se legal under the antitrust laws.

On 10/4/2012, the FTC filed a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court.  On June 17, 2013, the Supreme Court reversed the 11th Circuit, rejecting the scope of the patent test and permitting antitrust review of reverse payment patent settlement agreements.

There are three related administrative proceedings:

Type of Action
Federal
Last Updated
FTC Matter/File Number
071 0060

Allergan, Watson and Endo

The FTC's complaint alleges that Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. and several other drug companies violated antitrust laws by using pay-for-delay settlements to block consumers’ access to lower-cost generic versions of Lidoderm.  The agreement not to market an authorized generic – often called a “no-AG commitment” – is the form of reverse payment.  The FTC’s complaint alleges that Endo paid the first generic companies that filed for FDA approval – Watson Laboratories, Inc. – to eliminate the risk of competition for Lidoderm, in violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act.  Lidoderm is a topical patch used to relieve pain associated with post-herpetic neuralgia, a complication of shingles.  Under federal law, the first generic applicant to challenge a branded pharmaceutical’s patent, referred to as the first filer, may be entitled to 180 days of exclusivity as against any other generic applicant upon final FDA approval. But a branded drug manufacturer is permitted to market an authorized generic version of its own brand product at any time, including during the 180 days after the first generic competitor enters the market. According to the FTC, a no-AG commitment can be extremely valuable to the first-filer generic, because it ensures that this company will capture all generic sales and be able to charge higher prices during the exclusivity period.  The FTC is seeking a court judgment declaring that the defendants’ conduct violates the antitrust laws, ordering the companies to disgorge their ill-gotten gains, and permanently barring them from engaging in similar anticompetitive behavior in the future.

Endo agreed to settle the charges in a proposed stipulated order to be entered by the court.

Type of Action
Federal
Last Updated
FTC Matter/File Number
141 0004

Cephalon, Inc.

On 2/13/2008, the Commission filed a complaint in federal district court charging Cephalon, Inc. with preventing competition to its branded drug Provigil. The conduct under challenge includes paying four firms to refrain from selling generic versions of Provigil until 2012. Cephalon’s anticompetitive scheme, according to the Commission, denies patients access to lower-cost, generic versions of Provigil and forces consumers and other purchasers to pay hundreds of millions of dollars a year more for Provigil. According to the complaint, Cephalon entered into agreements with four generic drug manufacturers that each planned to sell a generic version of Provigil. Each of these companies had challenged the only remaining patent covering Provigil, one relating to the size of particles used in the product. The complaint charges that Cephalon was able to induce each of the generic companies to abandon its patent challenge and agree to refrain from selling a generic version of Provigil until 2012 by agreeing to pay the companies a total amount in excess of $200 million. In so doing, Cephalon achieved a result that assertion of its patent rights alone could not. In 2008, this case was transferred from the District Court of District of Columbia to the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Type of Action
Federal
Last Updated
FTC Matter/File Number
061 0182