A U.S. district court judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by several consumer groups that accused Pfizer, Merck GlaxoSmithKline and six other drugmakers of colluding to block American consumers from importing cheaper drugs from Canada.
The judge ruled that buying drugs in Canada for use in the U.S. is illegal, so an effort to stop it can't be a violation of federal antitrust law.
"Prescription drugs purchased in Canada by American consumers for personal use in the United States are misbranded if introduced into United States' commerce," and therefore are illegal, wrote U.S. District Judge Joan Erickson.
"The courts are not the proper forum to determine whether Canada or another country's prescription drug labels or symbols function in the same manner or offer the same protections as the United States' 'Rx only' symbol." Ericksen ruled.
A spokeswoman for GlaxoSmithKline told Bloomberg.com. "(The judge's) finding that these medicines imported into the U.S. from Canada are illegal – that's really a very weighty decision for us. And the absolute dismissal of the federal antitrust claims is a very favorable outcome."
Other drugmakers named in the lawsuit include Abbott Laboratories, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Wyeth, Boehringer Ingelheim and AstraZeneca.
The consumer groups suing the drugmakers included individuals and groups including the Minnesota Senior Federation, United Senior Action of Indiana, the Massachusetts Senior Action Council and the Central Laborers Welfare Fund.