AstraZeneca is the second largest biopharmaceutical company in Europe. The production and manufacture of its popular heartburn drug Nexium subjected the company to many law suits filed by plaintiffs. Consumer coalitions protested that the drug worked the same as Prilose. The company had previously been manufacturing Prilose but its patent had expired hence the company introduced Nexium a more expensive alternative.
Mr. Berman, the plaintiffs' lawyer said that there was no problem in introducing a new drug to the market. However, the bulk of the problem lay with the company’s deceptive style of advertising. The American Federation of Labor Congress of Industrial Organizations, the California Alliance for Retired Americans and the Congress of California Seniors filed the class action law suit. AstraZeneca had apparently violated the Unfair Competition Law and False Advertising Law. The plaintiffs recognized a breach in the law and went ahead to gather evidence to make their case possible.
Under the fore mentioned law, anyone (or a company) that takes advantage of advertising through the posting of misleading information and falsifying information about a product as a profit gaining means through misleading people into using products would be liable to law. In the same regard, the law forbids publishing of false materials and statements that make a company’s products chosen by consumers over other companies.
To win the case, the plaintiffs had to show that AstraZeneca charted the entire plan of fooling patients into believing that they were buying a better yet more expensive drug. The plaintiff had to prove that the new drug was no different from cheaper generic over the counter drugs including Prilose. The plaintiff also sought to show that patients who had the drug prescribed by doctors were not happy with their health.
The F.D.A imposes heavy penalties for any deceptive and false claims by drug companies. The court can destitute and/or disgorge all illegal and unlawful profits earned through the sale of the drug. The company can also be ordered to pay interests on the profits as well as cover the legal costs of the organizations filing the lawsuit. The suits had been in Massachusetts January 25, 2005, California on October 18, 2004, and a nationwide case on May 27, 2005, in Delaware.
On October 1, 2007 in Massachusetts the plaintiffs filed the motion for class certification while in California, On September 21, 2005, Judge Chaney declined to dismiss the plaintiffs' case and on October 1, 2007, the plaintiffs filed their motion for class certification. Regarding the nationwide case, on December 18, 2007, the plaintiffs filed a petition for certiorari, requesting the United States Supreme Court to give a ruling.