07 December 1998 00:00 [Source: ICB Americas]A federal judge in Chicago has thrown out a lawsuit by thousands of retail pharmacies alleging a vast conspiracy by major drug producers and wholesalers to fix prescription drug prices. US District Court Judge Charles Kocoras granted the defendants' motion for a directed verdict and dismissed the case, ending a trial that lasted nearly 10 weeks.
"We were pleased that the judge decided to dismiss this. We thought the lawsuit was without merit, and we're pleased with the judge's ruling," says a spokesperson for Monsanto Company, whose G.D. Searle unit was a defendant.
The other defendants were drug manufacturers Johnson and Johnson, Forest Laboratories Inc., and Novartis AG, as well as five drug wholesalers.
"Novartis is extremely pleased with the result, and this confirms that our pricing policies have been fair and independent," says a company spokesperson.
In a class-action suit, retail pharmacies alleged that from 1989 until 1996 they were denied pricing discounts that drug makers and drug wholesalers gave to managed care groups, hospitals and other buyers.
The drug manufacturers and wholesalers deny the existence of any pricing conspiracy. Judge Kocoras sided with the companies and found the plaintiffs' case lacking sufficient evidence.
Two settlements were reached earlier in the case. A group of 11 companies paid $351 million in 1996, and another group of four companies settled for $342.9 million in July. Neither group admitted any wrongdoing.
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