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Paxil Antitrust Litigation -- Nichols v. Smithkline Beecham et al.

Court: United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania
Case No.:
Leadership Position: Co-Lead Class Counsel

Wexler Wallace served as Co-Lead Counsel in this case alleging that Defendants illegally maintained a monopoly by taking improper actions to keep generic versions of paroxetine hydrochloride (Paxil®) off the market. Paxil is a prescription drug manufactured and sold by GlaxoSmithKline for the treatment of, among other things, depression and anxiety.  As alleged in the Complaint, because of Defendants’ actions in delaying generic competition, third party payors and consumers were forced to pay more for this needed medication than they should have.

Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants improperly listed patents for paroxetine hydrochloride in the Orange Book (the FDA’s compendium of approved drug products with therapeutic equivalence evaluations) and engaged in repeated “sham” patent infringement litigation against various generic drug manufacturers intended to keep generic versions of Paxil® off the market. The case settled for $65 million.

Novel questions of law and complex issues of proof made the Paxil case an extraordinarily difficult case. Instead of a traditional price-fixing case of the type known among the antitrust bar as a “hardcore cartel” case, this case involved a Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) investigation that was closed without further FTC action. With no outside support, Ken Wexler, as one of three Co-Lead Counsel, had to build the case from the ground up.  Moreover, the Paxil case is believed to be one of the earliest actions, if not the first, to allege misuse of patents to delay generic competition in a pharmaceutical market brought under Section 2 of the Sherman Act, rather than Section 1.


After overcoming the unique hurdles of this case, and after extensive discovery and investigation, Wexler Wallace and the other Co-Lead Counsel achieved a settlement of $65 million on behalf of consumers of paroxetine hydrochloride. The favorable response to this hard-fought settlement was overwhelming, with over 60,000 consumers filing claims.