Judgement in Lasco's US$311-M case against Pfizer by SeptemberWednesday, April 26, 2017
BY BALFORD HENRY
Lawyers for Lasco Distributors have maintained their position that it deserves US$311 million, with interest, from drug giant Pfizer for losses relating to an injunction against sale of its popular generic hypertension drug, Las Amlodipine, in 2005.Lasco and another local drug distributor, Medimpex Jamaica, are seeking an assessment of damages triggered by the injunction, which lasted from 2005 to 2012, while the local Supreme Court pursued Pfizer's attempt to prevent the Jamaican companies from selling generic hypertension drugs using the base ingredient Besylate Salt of Amlodipine, for which Pfizer was seeking sole patent.
Justice Viviene Harris, who heard the closing submissions from defendants Lasco Ltd and Medimpex Jamaica, as well as the claimant, Pfizer Ltd, last Wednesday and Thursday in the Supreme Court, downtown Kingston, is expected to make a ruling in September.
However, Justice Harris has indicated that that while she expects to make her judgment available then, depending on the time available to her between now and then to assess the case, the judgment could be earlier.
In his concluding submission to the court, attorney for Lasco, Vincent Chen of Chen, Green and Company, encouraged the court to appreciate that statements from Pfizer's expert witnesses were wrong and should not be accepted.
He said that, on the other hand, the submissions from Lasco's expert witnesses were “fair and reasonable estimates of what would, on the balance probabilities, have happened if the injunction had not been made”, and should be accepted by the court.
Chen said that the court should take into consideration the period which was required for Lasco to regain its market share, after the 2005 injunction which prevented the local companies from selling their hypertension tablets, which was granted by the local Supreme Court on an application by Pfizer.
He said, however, that the report of Lasco's expert witnesses left it open to the court to exercise its discretion, as to how likely or not the scenario presented would have occurred, and have left it up to the court to exercise that discretion as it sees fit.
'The court should evaluate the loss suffered by the third defendant (Lasco) at the amount of US$311,026,767 with interest,” Chen insisted, however.
He suggested that the interest should be calculated as set out in the report of one of Lasco's expert witnesses, UWI maths Professor Winston Whyte, and discounted for future loss in accordance with the said report.
When the injunction was put in place, Lasco, which had started selling its generic Las Amlodipine at one-eighth the price of Pfizer's Norvasc, was experiencing massive increases in sales of the product.
“I estimate that sales of Las Amlodipine would have continued upwards in 2003, when its sales increased by 451 per cent over the previous year,” Lasco Founder and Chairman Lascelles Chin earlier informed the court.
Pfizer lost the rights case in the Jamaican Supreme Court, as well as in the local Appeal Court, and eventually lost again at Jamaica's highest court — the Privy Council in London — in 2015. The Privy Council, however, left the summation of the damages owed by Pfizer to both Lasco and Medimpex to be determined by the Jamaican Supreme Court.
The damages assessment case, which has been in the local courts since early last year, was finally closed at the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston last week Thursday.