CVS, Rite Aid Sue Pfizer, Teva Over Antidepressant

Two pharmacy chains are suing two major drugmakers over efforts to keep a generic drug from consumers.

CVS Caremark (NYSE:CVS) and Rite Aid (NYSE:RAD) have sued Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (NYSE:TEVA) in a New Jersey federal court, accusing the pharmaceutical companies of working together to prevent generic versions of Effexor XR, an antidepressant, from reaching retail stores.

Sales of Effexor XR have generated $2.5 billion a year in the U.S. since 2008, Reuters noted.

The pharmacy chains allege that a Pfizer unit acquired fraudulent patents and filed spurious lawsuits against Teva and various generic-drug manufacturers. This was done, the pharmacy chains claim, in collaboration with Teva in an effort to extend Teva’s exclusive right to manufacture the drug even after its patent expired in 2008.

This is the second lawsuit filed over the slow release of generic versions of Effexor XR.

In December, a number of large retail chains, including Walgreen (NYSE:WAG), Kroger (NYSE:KR), Safeway (NYSE:SWY), Supervalu (NYSE:SVU) and HEB Grocery, sued the drugmakers over similar allegations.

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