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Pfizer, Teva Accused in Suit of Keeping Generic Drug Off Market

Dec. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Pfizer Inc.’s Wyeth unit and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. were accused by a group of prescription drug retailers of illegally keeping a generic version of the Effexor XR antidepressant off the market.

“Wyeth engaged in an overarching anticompetitive scheme to prevent and delay the approval and marketing of generic versions of Effexor XR,” the retailers, including Walgreen Co. and Kroger Co., said in a complaint filed Nov. 30 in federal court in Trenton, New Jersey.

The retailers allege that Wyeth fraudulently obtained patents and engaged in “sham litigation” to delay generic versions of the extended release drug. They also alleged that Wyeth and the U.S. unit of Israel-based Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd. colluded to keep Teva’s generic version off the market until June 2010.

Joan Campion, a spokeswoman for New York-based Pfizer, and Denise Bradley, a spokeswoman for Teva North America, didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment on the lawsuit after regular business hours yesterday.

The case is Walgreen v. Wyeth, 11-6985, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Trenton).

To contact the reporter on this story: Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles at epettersson@bloomberg.net.

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

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