Wed | Sep 19, 2018

Lasco to appeal damages ruling in Pfizer case

Published:Tuesday | November 28, 2017 | 12:00 AMSteven Jackson

LASCO Distributors Limited has advised that it expects to file an appeal in December challenging the Supreme Court's ruling on damages it awarded in the longstanding Pfizer case.

Last Friday, Justice Vivene Harris awarded LASCO less than one per cent of the award the company had requested.

Attorney Vincent Chen, who represented LASCO, indicated that the company would take the matter to the Court of Appeal within weeks.

"The directors of LASCO have authorised me to file the notice and grounds of our appeal," Chen told The Gleaner yesterday.

"We expect to file within three weeks and then it is up to the court system to move forward."

He added that subsequent developments surrounding the appeal process would be made public through notifications on the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE).

LASCO advised that the formal order was signed by Justice Harris, awarding LASCO damages and interest up to November 3, 2017 at J$273.28 million or about US$2.1 million.

"The judge has accepted Pfizer's position," said Chen.




LASCO wanted US$490 million as the full payout from Pfizer in the long-running court case, documents related to the case indicated. That figure translates to around $62 billion in local currency.

A US$311-million judgment requested by LASCO's lawyers was previously reported. But less known is the additional US$179.16 million of estimated interest. Additionally, the Jamaican Government could have received a tax windfall, amounting to around US$60 million had the court awarded LASCO the amount it requested.

Pfizer, however, has countered that the Jamaican entity should be paid no more than US$518,000 for the period it was not allowed to sell a drug.

LASCO Distributors, a publicly traded company, claimed that it suffered damages when it was barred by a court order from 2005 to 2012 from distributing the drug amlodipine (Norvase), which is used to treat high blood pressure. In 2012, the United Kingston Privy Council upheld rulings by the local courts that favoured LASCO and another local firm, Medimpex Jamaica Limited.

In December 2015, LASCO outlined its claim in the Supreme Court to recover the money from Pfizer, which had obtained a restraining court order against LASCO and Medimpex, barring their distribution of the drug. Medimpex, a private company, is also claiming a sum for losses.

The parties had been in court since 2002 when Pfizer claimed that the companies were infringing on its patent.