NEW ORLEANS - A Louisiana insurance company has filed suit against a drug company for allegedly using anticompetitive schemes in order to delay the entry of less expensive generic versions of Skelaxin into the market.

Louisiana Health Service Indemnity Co. d/b/a Bluecross/Blueshield of Louisiana, on behalf of itself and all others similarly situated, filed suit against King Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Mutual Pharmaceuticals Co. Inc. on July 6 in federal court in New Orleans.

Skelaxin is an FDA approved muscle relaxant used for the treatment of acute, painful, musculosketal conditions, with an active ingredient of metaxalone.

According to the lawsuit, the original compound patent for the drug expired in 1979.

The plaintiff argues that the defendant initiated patent litigation in an effort to keep generic versions off the market. Mutual Pharmaceutical and King Pharmaceuticals allegedly entered into a market allocation agreement, in which Mutual agreed not to launch a generic version of Skelaxin in the United States in exchange for payments, which so far have exceeded $200 million.

The defendants are also accused of filing meritless "citizens petitions" with the FDA in an effort to delay FDA approval of generic versions of Skelaxin.

The defendants are accused of violating federal and state antitrust laws, state consumer protection laws, and the doctrine of unjust enrichment.

Generic Skelaxin was not sold until about April 9, 2010.

The insurance company is asking the court to stop the defendants from continued illegal activities, for disgorgement, restitution, and the creation of a constructive trust, and for an award of damages, treble, multiple, punitive, attorney's fees, and court costs.

The plaintiff is represented by James R. Dugan II, Douglas R. Plymale, David B. Franco, and Chad Primeaux of The Dugan Law Firm in New Orleans and Charles A. O'Brien of Bluecross Blueshield of Louisiana in Baton Rouge. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Carl J. Barbier is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:12-cv-01766

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