UWI epidemiologist to appear in Lasco/Medimpex compensation case against Pfizer

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

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PROFESSOR Rainford Wilks is to take the witness stand in November when the hearing on claims for compensation made by local firms Lasco Distributors and Medimpex Limited against pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer, resumes in the Supreme Court.


Professor Wilks is expected to be the last witness for Lasco in the case, which resulted from a ban on the local companies’ sale of their most popular hypertension/blood pressure pills — Las Amlodipine and Normodipine — due to an injunction imposed by the Supreme Court in 2005, at the request of Pfizer, pending completion of their patent issue case in 2012.


He is expected to be the first witness to be called when the hearing resumes at 2:00 pm on Monday, November 21 at the new Supreme Court building, downtown Kingston.


Evidence from Wilks, the founding professor of epidemiology and director of the Epidemiology Research Unit at the Tropical Medicine Research Institute (TMRU) and a member of the staff of the University Hospital of the West Indies, is expected to last the whole week.


Dr Lloyd Barnett, main attorney for Medimpex, is expected to present two witnesses for his client, and attorney for Pfizer, Denise Kitson is expected to produce four witnesses for her client, following Professor Wilks’ deposition.


However, once the attorneys have received the transcripts, the judge is expected to fix a date by which they must deliver written submissions and a date by which they will be required to return to speak to the submissions. These addresses will either be in late December or early January, 2017.


After the oral submissions, it will be up to the presiding judge, Justice Viviene Harris, to hand down a decision.


Lasco has asked for US$311 million in compensation, but Pfizer has offered a maximum US$518,000. Medimpex, which is seeking US$11.5 million, was offered a maximum of US$68,000.


The issue dates back to April 2005 when Pfizer obtained the injunction in the Supreme Court, preventing Lasco from selling its Las Amlodipine and Medimpex from selling Normodipine, after claiming ownership of the original Egyptian patent for Salts of Amlodipine/Amlodipine Besylate which are used in the production of both generic drugs.


— Balford Henry

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