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Pfizer Proposes $345 Million Settlement In Kansas City, Kansas, Litigation Over EpiPen Price Hikes

Heather Bresch
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
Mylan CEO Heather Bresch takes her seat on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016, prior to testifying before the House Oversight Committee hearing on EpiPen price increases. Bresch, the daughter of Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, defended the cost of the life-saving devices. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

In 2007 an EpiPen package cost about $100. Today, it costs more than $650 without pharmacy coupons or manufacturer discounts.

Pfizer Inc. and two other companies have agreed to pay $345 million to resolve long-running litigation over EpiPen price hikes.

In documents filed in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas, the companies asked the court to grant preliminary approval to the settlement, which would end the litigation against the three companies.

The proposed settlement comes just three weeks after U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree granted summary judgment to another defendant, Mylan, on the plaintiffs’ racketeering claims and some antitrust claims. But he allowed other antitrust claims against Mylan to proceed to trial.

A Pfizer spokesperson said in an email that the company "denies any wrongdoing and continues to believe its actions were appropriate."

"This resolution reflects a desire by the Company to avoid the distraction of continued litigation and focus on breakthroughs that change patients’ lives,” the spokesperson said.

Rex Sharp, a Prairie Village lawyer representing the plaintiffs, said in an email that his clients were pleased that Pfizer had agreed to the settlement while noting it still requires court approval.

He said the plaintiffs looked forward to trying the remaining claims against Mylan before a jury.

The litigation dates to 2016, when numerous class action lawsuits were filed against Pfizer, Mylan and other defendants alleging they engaged in anticompetitive conduct in connection with their marketing of the EpiPen.

Mylan owns the rights to the EpiPen brand, but the devices are manufactured by Pfizer.

Mylan acquired the right to market and distribute the EpiPen in 2007. At the time, an EpiPen package cost about $100. Today, it costs more than $650 without pharmacy coupons or manufacturer discounts.

EpiPens are auto-injectable devices that deliver the drug epinephrine, which is used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions known as anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is most commonly caused by food allergies but can also be caused by insect bites, medications and other substances.

The lawsuits were transferred to federal court in Kansas City, Kansas, because of its geographical centrality. Trial was scheduled to begin this Sept. 7, but if Crabtree approves the settlement, Pfizer and the two other companies proposing to settle – Meridian Medical Technologies Inc. and King Pharmaceuticals Inc. —will be off the hook.

The proposed settlement was reached after Pfizer and the plaintiffs engaged a neutral third party to mediate the dispute. The mediator, Layn R. Phillips, is a former federal judge in Oklahoma.

Multiple law firms have been involved in the complex litigation, which featured the production of over 11 million pages of documents and 158 depositions, according to court documents.

In his 180-page ruling dismissing most of the claims against Mylan, Crabtree also granted summary judgment to Mylan’s former CEO, Heather Bresch, the daughter of Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Most of the price hikes occurred during her tenure.

In 2020 Bresch stepped down after eight years at the helm, following Mylan’s merger with Pfizer’s Upjohn unit to form Viatris.

Updated: July 15, 2021 at 12:22 PM CDT
The story has been updated to include comments from a Pfizer spokesperson.
Dan Margolies has been a reporter for the Kansas City Business Journal, The Kansas City Star, and KCUR Public Radio. He retired as a reporter in December 2022 after a 37-year journalism career.
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