Washington, DC -- Attorney General Robert J. Spagnoletti today announced that the District of Columbia, with the Federal Trade Commission and 2 states, is suing Warner Chilcott Corporation and Barr Pharmaceuticals, Inc. for entering into an agreement that blocked generic competition for Warner Chilcott's oral contraceptive Ovcon®. The antitrust lawsuits, filed November 7 in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, allege that Warner Chilcott paid Barr $20 million to keep it from marketing a generic version of Ovcon®.
"It is important to consumers and government purchasers that generic competition not be blocked by anti-competitive agreements," said Mr. Spagnoletti. "We are pleased to work with the FTC and the states to oppose these kinds of agreements."
Since 1976, Ovcon® has been sold in the United States as a safe and effective oral contraceptive. Beginning in 2000, Warner Chilcott became the exclusive US distributor of Ovcon®. In September 2001, Barr filed with the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) an application to allow it to bring a generic version of Ovcon® to market. In early 2003, Barr publicly announced that it planned to have the generic on the market by the end of that year.
In response to this development, Warner Chilcott paid Barr $1 million in September 2003 for an option agreement. Under the terms of the agreement, once Barr received FDA approval to market generic Ovcon®, Warner Chilcott would have 90 days to make a $19 million payment to Barr in exchange for Barr not marketing generic Ovcon®.
On April 23, 2004, the FDA gave Barr approval to market generic Ovcon®. On May 6, 2004, Warner Chilcott exercised its option by paying $19 million to Barr. As a result of the option agreement, Warner Chilcott is the only company in the United States today that markets Ovcon®.