Group Sues Astra Zeneca

A Minnesota seniors group sued nine major pharmaceutical manufacturers on Wednesday, alleging that the companies have conspired to keep U.S. medicine prices artificially high by blocking Canadian imports.

Peter Wyckoff, executive director of the Minnesota Senior Federation’s metropolitan-region office, said the lawsuit — which the organization hopes will be awarded class-action status — represents a new phase in the group’s efforts to make it easier to import drugs at lower Canadian prices.

“We have three branches of government that can change things,” he said. “This is the third.”

The lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis alleges that Pfizer Inc., GlaxoSmithKline, Abbott Laboratories, AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, Eli Lilly, Merck, Novartis and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals have acted in concert to block the supply of name-brand drugs to Canadian pharmacists who sell to U.S. citizens.

In a statement, Pfizer said its practices comply with U.S. law and federal regulations.

“The simple truth is that the importation of pharmaceutical products into the U.S. from Canada is not only illegal, but also dangerous because it increases the opportunity to introduce counterfeit or unapproved pharmaceutical prod-

ucts into the market,” said the statement from spokesman Bryant Haskins.

The lawsuit seeks attorneys’ fees, unspecified damages and a stop to the companies’ anti-import efforts. It’s premised on federal antitrust laws as well as specific state consumer-protection laws.

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