AHIP supports New York AG suit against Actavis

America's Health Insurance Plans filed an amicus brief in support of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's anti-trust case against the pharmaceutical firm Actavis, AHIP said in a statement.

Schneiderman sued Actavis in September 2014 following the drug maker's decision to phase out an older version of its Alzheimer's drug before its patent expiration, according to BuzzFeed News. The patent for the older Namenda IL expires in July, but the patent for the newer Namenda XR is demonstrably longer, the article said.

Critics of this practice say it stifles competition, as it introduces a slightly new version of a drug to the market before a less expensive generic version can be introduced, BuzzFeed News noted.

AHIP agreed. "This case is an example of what happens when drug makers engage in anticompetitive behavior under the guise of innovation," AHIP Vice President Ben Jenkins said in the statement. "Forcing a product switch to protect a monopoly punishes consumers in the worst possible way by delaying the entry of more affordable prescription drugs into the market."

High costs for specialty drugs hit patients and payers alike, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. As a result, pharmaceutical companies face increasing pressure to lower prices--and one way they can do that is by allowing generics to hit the market.

A federal judge ruled in December that Actavis must sell the older Namenda IL while the court deliberates the case, according to BuzzFeed News. Actavis is appealing that ruling. The drug maker has said that patients and caregivers prefer the once-daily dose of the newer Namenda XR to the old drug's twice-a-day dosage.

The pairing of AHIP and Schneiderman is an unusual one, the article noted, as the attorney general has taken a hard line with health insurers in New York state.

For more:
- read the AHIP statement and brief (.pdf)
- here's the BuzzFeed News story

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