A federal civil lawsuit has been filed against Wyeth, the makers of Effexor, claiming that the drug company didn’t tell the truth about the drug’s clinical data and used false lawsuits as a means of keeping a monopoly over the controversial antidepressant.
The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday by Uniondale Chemists Inc., a retail pharmacy. Pfizer, which now owns Wyeth, has so far denied the allegations against it by standing behind its portfolio for Effexor. Right now, Effexor is part of the class of depression medication called an SSRI. The drug is known to cause various side effects that can include aggressive behavior, suicidal thoughts, severe mood swings and even suicide. One of the reasons Pfizer stands by Effexor is because the company says that it has benefited millions of patients.
According to the lawsuit, Effexor’s patent expired in June 2008, but that Wyeth lied so that it could keep the patent on Effexor’s XR (extended release version). Uniondale Chemists is saying that there were $4.5 billion in sales of Effexor while the generic drugs were supposed to already be on the market. It sounds like the lawsuit is claiming that Wyeth used bad tactics to try to prevent or lower sales of Effexor XR by filing lawsuits against generic drug makers as a stalling tactic.
Perhaps Wyeth filed the lawsuits to stall the generic sales as a means of recouping some of their financial losses from all of the lawsuits being filed against the company over the drug’s side effects. Thousands of lawsuits have been filed claiming that Wyeth didn’t properly warn the public against the severe side effects associated with Effexor. Some studies have also claimed that SSRI drugs like Effexor may not even work to combat depression any more than a placebo would. This may have been Wyeth’s motivation in using stall tactics.