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By Andrew Longstreth
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Pfizer Inc has agreed to pay $190 million to settle a class action lawsuit alleging the pharmaceutical company took steps to delay market entry of generic versions of its epilepsy drug Neurontin, according to court documents filed on Monday.
Lawyers representing a class of Neurontin purchasers disclosed the terms of the settlement in a motion seeking approval of the deal that was filed in New Jersey federal court.
The lawsuit, first filed in 2002, alleged that Pfizer took multiple steps to maintain its exclusivity on the sale of Neurontin, including sham patent infringement lawsuits and promotion of the drug for unapproved uses.
Buyers of Neurontin claimed that Pfizer's activity forced them to pay inflated prices for the drug. Pfizer, which did not admit to liability or wrongdoing, said in a statement that the settlement "reflects a desire by the company to concentrate on its business and the needs of patients and prescribers, while also reducing the cost and distraction of prolonged litigation."
"We're happy with the result after a long and hard litigation," said Robert Kaplan, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs.
In 2004, Pfizer agreed to pay $430 million to federal and state governments and pleaded guilty to criminal charges of illegally marketing Neurontin, a drug the company obtained with its 2000 acquisition of Warner Lambert Corp.
The case is In re Neurontin Antitrust Litigation, No. 02-1390, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey. (Reporting by Andrew Longstreth; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)
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