The New York State attorney general sued a drug maker to prevent it from forcing Alzheimer’s patients to switch medications. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed an antitrust lawsuit against Actavis and its New York-based subsidiary Forest Laboratories. He claims they plan to “force” Alzheimer’s patients to switch medications to maintain high drug prices in an anti-competitive move to block competition.
Actavis announced it will to withdraw its Alzheimer’s drug Namenda from the market and substitute a drug called NamendaXR.
And although patients can take NamendaXR once a day instead of twice, the attorney general claimed foul. He claims it’s an anti-competitive gambit. The lawsuit points out Namenda’s patent expires in July 2015 and makers of generic drugs offer cheaper substitutes.
Schneider claims that instead of facing that competition, “Actavis plans to force patients to switch unnecessarily to a very similar drug with a longer patent. Once patients switch to the new drug, Namenda XR, it’s likely that they will remain on that medication even after the Namenda generics hit the market due to the practical difficulties of switching back, thus allowing Actavis to insulate its profits from competition.”
If patients switch now to Namenda XR, they’ll need to give a pharmacist a doctor’s authorization to switch to a generic, and that may discourage many from buying a cheaper drug.
Schneiderman said, “A drug company manipulating vulnerable patients and forcing physicians to alter treatment plans unnecessarily, simply to protect corporate profits, is unethical and illegal. Unfortunately, schemes to block competition, without considering the consequences to patients, are a growing trend in the health care industry. By standing up to Actavis, we’re sending a clear message to all pharmaceutical companies: Prioritizing profits over patients’ rights will not be tolerated.”