Kaiser files lawsuit against Merck over cholesterol drugs

The managed care consortium Kaiser Permanente is suing Merck (NYSE: MRK) over alleged pay-to-delay agreements to withhold the production of generic drugs for Zetia and Vytorin.

Zetia (ezetimibe) is a cholesterol absorption inhibitor while Vytorin combines ezetimibe with simvastatin, an inhibitor of 3-hydroxy-3-methyl-glutaryl-coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase. FDA drugs treat high cholesterol levels.

The lawsuit also names Glenmark, a manufacturer of generics of Zetia and Vytorin. It alleges that Merck’s plan to delay the introduction of generics for those drugs had cost Kaiser hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a report from the San Francisco Business Times.

The Oakland, Calif.–headquartered Kaiser Foundation Health Plan first filed the suit in San Francisco Superior Court. That court, however, transferred the case to the U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

FDA first approved Zetia in October 2002.

FDA approved Vytorin in July 20…

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