By Dow Jones Business News,
February 12, 2014, 11:05:00 PM EDT
MELBOURNE, Australia--Australia's antitrust regulator has launched court proceedings against the local arm of Pfizer
Inc. alleging it misused its market power in the sale of a popular cholesterol-lowering drug.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in a statement Thursday said its action in the federal court
relates to offers made to drugstores in early 2012 for the supply of Lipitor and Pfizer's generic variant, atorvastatin.
Pfizer's Australian unit in an emailed response to questions said it strongly believes its offers were competitive. It
said it would "vigorously defend" the proceedings brought against it.
Lipitor was for a number of years the highest selling prescription medicine under Australia's publicly-subsidized drug
program, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Before Pfizer lost patent protection on the drug in May 2012, it was
prescribed to more than one million Australians and had sales of more than 700 million Australian dollars (US$626
million), the regulator said.
The ACCC said its action claimed that Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd. offered significant discounts and rebates that had
applied to supplies of its Lipitor drug on the condition that drugstores bought minimum volumes of up to 12 months
supply of the generic atorvastatin. The offers were first made ahead of the loss of patent protection, when other
suppliers were prevented from making competing offers to supply their generic versions to pharmacies, it said.
The regulator said it was seeking penalties, declarations and costs. A directions hearing has been set for March 18 in
Pfizer said that because the matter was before a court, it was inappropriate for it to comment further.
Write to Robb M. Stewart at Robb.Stewart@wsj.com
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