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Lasco Distributors accepts court’s decision on long-fought Pfizer battle

Lasco Distributors Limited, LASD, has waved the white flag on its long-running battle with American multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology corporation Pfizer Limited, saying it would accept the court’s November decision and end its appeals.

LASD had in February 2020 filed an appeal with the court arguing that the amount awarded to the company three years prior for losses suffered from an injunction obtained by the American company barring the distribution company from selling Norvasc for seven years, was low in comparison to other awards in cases of similar nature.

In November, the appeal was dismissed.

Lasco Distributors, which alongside pharmaceutical company Medimpex Jamaica was impacted by the injunction, had been awarded $273.3 million for losses and disposal of the stock, inclusive of interest, by the Supreme Court in 2017.

Lasco had initially sought US$490 million, which would have translated into billions of dollars in Jamaican currency, as compensation. Instead, it was awarded less than $300 million.

The appeal of the award came up for hearing in February 2021, but the court had reserved its judgment. The decision was eventually handed down on November 11 of this year, rejecting the appeal.

Subsequently, after about a month of deliberations, Lasco said in a market filing that it had accepted its lawyers’ advice to end its fight over compensation.

It will also pay the legal fees incurred by Pfizer.

“Lasco’s attorneys’ will agree the cost with Pfizer’s attorney,” the notice said.

The appeal court, in its decision, said neither Lasco Distributors nor Medimpex had shown, in any meaningful way, how Justice Vivene Harris had erred in her first decision on the case.

“The losses claimed were not substantiated by the required evidence. Accordingly, Lasco’s grounds and Medimpex’s grounds are without merit,” the court ruled.

The appellants failed to convince the court of the value of the opportunity, or chance lost for market share, as a consequence of the injunction, it said.

Lasco’s concession brings to an end a two-decade-long battle between the companies, after Pfizer claimed that Lasco Distributors and Medimpex were infringing on its patent. Pfizer had contended that the Jamaican firms violated its patent by selling generic versions of Norvasc, which is used to treat high blood pressure, in the early 2000s.

The injunction granted to Pfizer in 2005 barred the companies from distributing the drug up until 2012, when LASD and Medimpex challenged the matter in court and won.

At the time, Lasco Distributors had asked the court to award it US$490 million as the full payout for the long-running case, but Pfizer had countered, saying Lasco Distributors should be paid no more than US$518,000, and Medimpex US$68,000.

Medimpex had demanded US$11.5 million, but was only awards $5.3 million in Jamaican currency by the court, for stock that it had to destroy as a result of the injunction.

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