Monday, October 18, 2004

AFL-CIO sues Astrazeneca over misleading information about NEXIUM

from Reuters:

--> The AFL-CIO and two California consumer groups on Monday sued AstraZeneca, alleging the company misled patients into switching to its expensive new ulcer drug as the patent on its nearly identical older Prilosec pill was set to expire.

The suit was filed in U.S. Superior Court in Los Angeles by the labor union, the Congress of California Seniors and the California Alliance for Retired Americans on behalf of consumers nationwide who purchased the newer pill, called Nexium.

The plaintiffs are members of the Prescription Access Litigation Project, a national coalition of 100 consumer organizations that are using class-action lawsuits to challenge prices of prescription drugs.

The coalition in a release said London-based AstraZeneca initiated "a massive and misleading advertising and promotional campaign to deceive consumers into purchasing Nexium, a nearly identical new drug" to Prilosec.

The coalition said the suit contends AtraZeneca used "misleading information to convince consumers that Nexium was a significantly better drug than Prilosec." <--

The Reuters article did not go into detail on what "nearly identical" meant. In an earlier article, the Wall Street Journal screwed up the relationship of Nexium and Prilosec.

To go into detail, from a chemical formula point of view, Nexium and Prilosec are identical; they have the same chemical formula. They are not identical from a stereochemical point of view, because the molecule has a center of optical activity.

From "It's a Strange, Strange World," Intellectual Property Today, October 2002:

The discussion of optical isomers contained in the article on AstraZeneca ["For AstraZeneca, Ruling on Patents Will Be Critical," WSJ, C1, C3 (10 Sept. 02)], which is critical to the understanding of the disputes over PRILOSEC/NEXIUM and PLAVIX, is in error. An optical isomer is not "one-half of a mirror image of the original molecule." Certain molecules are related to one another in the same way as a right hand is to a left hand: they are mirror images which are nevertheless distinguishable. The molecules in NEXIUM and PLAVIX are analogous to collections of "right hands," while the corresponding racemates are analogous to collections of equal amounts of "right hands" and "left hands." Patent law has a relatively straightforward approach to analyze patentability distinctions between optical isomers and the corresponding racemate. A larger error appears concerning the drug fexofenadine at page 469 of the article FDA POLICY AND REGULATION OF STEREOISOMERS by M. Strong. 54 Food & Drug L.J. 463 (1999). Fexofenadine is not an enantiomer of the racemate terfenadine.


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