Suspected of Illegally Keeping Generics Off Market

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- Federal Trade Commission Chairman Tim Muris today said the FTC has initiated a probe of pharmaceutical companies to determine whether they are illegally trying to keep generic drugs off the market.

Mr. Muris told a panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that the FTC had sent 100 requests for documents to drug manufacturers. He told the panel the FTC was concerned that recent actions by certain manufacturers could be indicative of an industrywide problem.

The FTC in April brought its third complaint accusing a major drug maker of acting illegally to keep low-cost generic drugs off the market.

In that case, which was filed against Schering-Plough, Upsher-Smith Laboratories and American Home Products, the companies were accused of entering into anti-competitive agreements to keep a generic form of a potassium chloride supplement off the market.

In earlier cases, the FTC took similar actions against Abbott Laboratories and Geneva Pharmeceuticals and what was then Hoechst Marion Roussel (now Aventis and Andrx Corp.).

Mr. Muris also reiterated his commitment to increasing FTC attention to some privacy issues and to targeting traditional fraud schemes now moving to the Internet.

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