Ahold USA, Inc. (“Plaintiff” or “Class Representative”) has reached a proposed settlement of its class action suit against Warner Chilcott Co., LLC f/k/a Warner Chilcott Co., Inc., Warner Chilcott (US), LLC, and Warner Chilcott Sales (US), LLC (collectively “Warner Chilcott”); Watson Laboratories, Inc. (“Watson”) (together, “Defendants”). The settlement is with Defendants and related entities Warner Chilcott plc n/k/a Allergan WC Ireland Holdings Ltd., Warner Chilcott Holdings Co. III, Ltd., Warner Chilcott Corp., Warner Chilcott Laboratories Ireland Limited, Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and parent entity Allergan, plc. You may have previously received a notice about the pendency of this class action lawsuit. The purpose of this webpage is to alert you to the existence of and provide important details about the proposed settlement of the lawsuit and to inform you of your rights under the proposed settlement.
The settlement with Defendants and related entities will provide $120,000,000 in cash to resolve the Direct Purchaser Class’s claims against Defendants (the “Settlement Fund”).
The Court has scheduled a hearing to decide on final approval of the settlement, the plan for allocating the Settlement Fund to Direct Purchaser Class Members (summarized in FAQs 6 and 7 here.), and Class Counsel’s request for settlement administration costs, attorneys’ fees, reimbursement of Class Counsel’s out-of-pocket expenses and costs, and a service award to the Class Representative. That hearing is scheduled for August 27, 2020 before U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith in the Courtroom of the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island, United States Courthouse, One Exchange Terrace, Providence, RI 02903.
Plaintiff alleges that Warner Chilcott and Watson violated federal antitrust laws by unlawfully impairing the introduction of generic versions of the prescription drug Loestrin 24 Fe into the United States market.
Plaintiff alleges that Warner Chilcott obtained an illegal monopoly on Loestrin 24 Fe through a patent procured by fraud on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and then wrongfully listed the fraudulent patent in the FDA’s “Orange Book.” Plaintiff alleges that, after generic manufacturer Watson and other potential generic competitors notified Warner Chilcott that they planned to launch generic versions of Loestrin 24 Fe, Warner Chilcott sued them asserting the invalid, improperly obtained, and unenforceable patent. Plaintiff alleges that Warner Chilcott and Watson later settled the baseless patent infringement lawsuit by entering into an illegal reverse payment agreement whereby Warner Chilcott paid Watson to delay the launch of its generic Loestrin 24 Fe product for more than four years. Plaintiff alleges that, just prior to the launch of Watson’s delayed generic version of Loestrin 24 Fe (named Lomedia 24 Fe and sold by Amneal Pharmaceuticals LLC through an arrangement with Watson), Warner Chilcott implemented an illegal “product hop” by withdrawing Loestrin 24 Fe from the United States market and launching in its place Minastrin 24 Fe, a chewable version of Loestrin 24 Fe that Plaintiff alleges otherwise was indistinguishable and offered no additional benefit over Loestrin 24 Fe.
Plaintiff claims that class members were injured as a result of the challenged conduct by paying more for branded and generic Loestrin 24 and branded Minastrin 24. A redacted public copy of Plaintiff’s Third Amended Consolidated Class Action Complaint and Jury Demand, dated March 28, 2018, is available for download at here.
Warner Chilcott and Watson deny all of these allegations, including that Plaintiff or Class Members are entitled to damages or other relief. Warner Chilcott and Watson respond that the patent protecting Loestrin 24 Fe was valid and enforceable and that Warner Chilcott’s litigation against companies infringing the patent was reasonable and necessary to protect Warner Chilcott’s legitimate intellectual property. Warner Chilcott and Watson also respond that their settlement of the patent infringement litigation was reasonable, led to earlier availability of generic versions of Loestrin 24 Fe than would have been available without the settlement, and included business deals that introduced new competition in women’s health, among other benefits. Warner Chilcott and Watson also respond that the transition from Loestrin 24 Fe to Minastrin 24 Fe introduced a new competitive option for patients and their physicians, as well as other benefits, and did not have the effect of delaying or impairing any generic competition. Finally, Warner Chilcott and Watson respond that no patients or pharmaceutical purchasers paid higher prices or suffered any harm as a result of Warner Chilcott’s and Watson’s conduct. There has been no determination by the Court or a jury that the allegations against Warner Chilcott or Watson have been proven or that, if proven, Warner Chilcott’s and Watson’s conduct caused harm to any patients or purchasers.
On July 2, 2019, a federal court allowed this antitrust lawsuit to proceed as a class action, and certified the following class:
All persons or entities in the United States and its territories who purchased brand or generic Loestrin 24 directly from Warner [Chilcott] or Amneal at any time during the period from September 1, 2009, through and until June 3, 2015, and all persons or entities in the United States and its territories who purchased brand Minastrin 24 directly from Warner [Chilcott] at any time during the period from September 1, 2009, through and until March 14, 2017 (the “Class Period”). Excluded from the Class are defendants, and their officers, directors, management, employees, subsidiaries, or affiliates, and, all federal governmental entities. Also excluded from the class are educational institutions such as universities and colleges (the “Class”).
At their request, in response to a previous notice of pendency of this lawsuit sent to all Class Members, the following entities were also excluded from the Class: Walgreen Co., The Kroger Co., Safeway Inc., HEB Grocery Company L.P., Albertson’s LLC, CVS Pharmacy, Inc., Rite Aid Corporation, and Rite Aid Hdqtrs. Corp.
If you fit within the definition of the Class, unless you previously asked to be excluded from the Class, you are a member of the Class for purposes of the settlement (the “Direct Purchaser Settlement Class”).
If you are not sure whether you are included, you may call or write to the lawyers in this case at the telephone numbers or addresses listed in FAQ number 9 here.
Defendants’ names and corporate relationships have changed over time. The lawsuit alleges wrongdoing by Warner Chilcott. In 2013 Warner Chilcott became a wholly owned subsidiary of Actavis, plc. In March 2015, Actavis plc completed an acquisition of Allergan, plc, and thereafter changed its corporate name to Allergan, plc. During much of the relevant time period in this case, Warner Chilcott and Watson were separate companies. More recently, these companies have both become part of Allergan, plc.
|YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS AND OPTIONS IN THIS SETTLEMENT|
|WHEN YOU RECEIVE A CLAIM FORM, PROMPTLY COMPLETE AND RETURN IT||You do not need to do anything now to remain a member of the Direct Purchaser Class. If the settlement with Defendants is approved and you are a member of the Class, and have not previously excluded yourself from the Class, you will receive a Claim Form by mail to complete, sign, and return to obtain a share of the Settlement Fund.|
|OBJECT TO THE SETTLEMENT||Write to the Court about why you do not like the settlement. Objections must be postmarked no later than May 11, 2020. Click here for FAQ number 12 for more information.|
|GO TO A HEARING||Ask to speak to the Court about the fairness of the settlement. A hearing to determine the fairness of the settlement is scheduled for August 27, 2020 at 10:00 am. Click here for FAQ number 13 for more information.|
|GET MORE INFORMATION||If you would like to receive more information about the proposed settlement, you can send questions to the lawyers identified in this notice and/or attend the hearing at which the Court will evaluate the proposed settlement.|
If the settlement is approved by the Court, all Direct Purchaser Settlement Class Members will receive a Claim Form by mail to request a pro rata share of the Net Settlement Fund. Court-approved fees and expenses for the attorneys and a service award to the Plaintiff will also be paid by the Settlement Fund. Transactional sales data from the Defendants and manufacturers of generic Loestrin 24 Fe will be used to make the pro rata share calculations. You will be asked to verify the accuracy of the information in the Claim Form that will be mailed to you if the Court approves the settlement, and to sign and return the form according to the directions on the form. Class Members will be given the opportunity to provide data or information to supplement or correct this information.
If you are a member of the Direct Purchaser Class, you can object to the settlement if you do not like it. The Court will consider your views. To object, you must send a letter via First Class U.S. Mail saying that you object to the settlement in In re Loestrin 24 Fe Antitrust Litigation, Civil Action No. 1:13-md-2472-WES-PAS (D.R.I.). Be sure to include your name, address, telephone number, your signature, and the reasons why you object to the settlement. Mail the objection to all attorneys listed in FAQ 12 here. Objections must be postmarked no later than May 11, 2020. A separate copy of the Notice can be downloaded here.
The Court will hold a Fairness Hearing at 10:00 a.m. on August 27, 2020, in the Courtroom of the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island, 1 Exchange Terrace, Providence, Rhode Island 02903. At this hearing, the Court will consider whether the settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. If there are objections, the Court will consider them. After the hearing, the Court will decide whether to approve the settlement. We do not know how long these decisions will take.