Abbott Agrees to Pay $52 Million to Resolve Aids Drug Case

Abbott Laboratories (ABT) agreed to pay $52 million to resolve claims by direct drug buyers that it tried to harm competition when it quadrupled the price of its HIV medicine Norvir in 2003.

The settlement, which is subject to court approval, would resolve a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of Abbott customers that purchased Norvir, a boosting agent for other HIV drugs, and a second medicine Kaletra, which includes Norvir, according to an April 8 filing in federal court in Oakland, California. Abbott denied wrongdoing, according to the accord.

Abbott increased the wholesale price of a Norvir capsule containing 100 milligrams to $8.57 from $1.71, the Abbott Park, Illinois-based company said in court documents. GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK) and drug retailers and distributors sued, claiming other drugmakers that used Norvir in their medicines couldn’t compete on price with Kaletra, and the price increase penalized drug customers that wanted to buy medicines that competed with Kaletra.

Abbott said it increased Norvir’s prices for legitimate business purposes and Kaletra lost market share after the price increase.

CVS Caremark Corp. (CVS), Walgreen Co. (WAG), Rite Aid Corp. (RAD) and retailers that sued opted out of the settlement, according to court documents.

The case is Meijer v. Abbott Laboratories, 07-5985, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland).

To contact the reporters on this story: Karen Gullo in San Francisco at kgullo@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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