(BOSTON, MA) –Today, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a lawsuit that will affect the health care of millions of Americans for years to come. The lawsuit is a legal challenge to a drug company’s ability to pay a competitor to keep a generic drug off the market.

“As a national consumer advocacy organization dedicated to quality affordable health care for all, we hope the Court will overturn the legal decisions in 2005 and 2006 that have allowed these agreements to happen.

“The Federal Trade Commission reports that as many as 142 different brand-name drugs have been affected by the 165 “pay-for-delay” settlements reached since 2005.  Community Catalyst has helped consumers and insurers file class action lawsuits to challenge pay-for-delay deals that have blocked consumer’s access to affordable generic versions of the drugs Provigil, Cipro, Oxycontin, K-Dur, and Tamoxifen. 

“Consumers only know a small handful of the drugs affected, but it could be as many as 142 brand-name drugs, based on FTC annual filings. FTC lawsuits have shown that consumers were forced to wait for years for generic versions of Cipro, Provigil and Androgel. Legal experts think the same is likely true of the very widely used drugs Lipitor and Plavix, as well as many others.

“Delaying generic versions of a drug has serious financial and health impacts on individual patients. In 2010, the FTC estimated that, for just one drug, a pay-for-delay deal could cost an individual consumer and their health plan $4,500 more over a year and a half. The impact on uninsured consumers is even worse. A survey last year reported that monthly out-of-pocket drug costs has forced potentially millions of uninsured Americans to cut back on taking their drugs, or to delay doctor visits or procedures.

“A state-insured librarian from Mississippi taking Provigil for idiopathic hypersomnia, while taking care of 21-year-old son with narcolepsy whose Provigil stopped being covered, has paid from $1,400-$1,800 a month for Provigil for over ten years, often having to put costs on credit card. Now that the pay-for-delay deal expired, she is able to pay a reasonable co-pay for her medication.

“These backroom deals, which occur in the context of an alleged patent dispute, have been consistently opposed by the FTC, but some of the Circuit Courts started to allow these deals in 2005. Since then, defendant drug companies have selectively maneuvered FTC legal challenges into these Courts, where they are dismissed.

“A strong, pro-consumer ruling by the Court could bring these 165 secret back-room deals to light, and let more than a hundred new generics become available more quickly.”

About Community Catalyst

Community Catalyst is a national, non-profit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1997 with the belief that affordable quality health care should be accessible to everyone. We work in partnership with national, state and local organizations, policymakers, and philanthropic foundations to ensure consumer interests are represented wherever important decisions about health and the health system are made: in communities, courtrooms, statehouses and on Capitol Hill. For more information, visit www.communitycatalyst.org. Read our blog at http://blog.communitycatalyst.org. Follow us on Twitter @healthpolicyhub or @PostScriptrxNews.

The 130-member Prescription Access Litigation coalition, a project of Community Catalyst, challenges pharmaceutical industry tactics that block consumer access to affordable medications. PAL coalition members have brought class action lawsuits to challenging pay-for-delay deals that blocked consumer access to affordable generic versions of Provigil, Cipro, Oxycontin, K-Dur, and Tamoxifen.