District Court Breathes New Life Into Predatory Pricing and Refusal to Deal Claims After Linkline and Trinko

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In Safeway Inc. v. Abbott Laboratories, 2010 WL 147988 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 12, 2010), Judge Wilkins of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California denied defendant Abbott Laboratories motion to dismiss predatory pricing and refusal to deal claims set forth in the second amended complaints filed by Direct Purchasers and Abbott's competitor, SmithKline Beecham Corp. ("GSK").

Abbott involves the sale of protease inhibitors ("PIs") which are currently the most effective class of drugs for treating HIV. In 1996, defendant Abbott introduced Norvir, consisting of a patented compound called ritonavir, as a stand-alone PI. After Norvir's release, it was discovered that when used in small quantities with other PIs, it could "boost" the antiviral properties of those other PIs. The use of Norvir in small amounts as a booster, rather than a stand-alone PI, caused sales of Norvir to decline significantly.

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