Fri | Jan 18, 2019

Small, unreasonable award in the LASCO case

Published:Thursday | December 7, 2017 | 12:00 AM


For those of us who have been painstakingly following the Pfizer vs LASCO and Medimpex debacle, last week's ruling most certainly came as a shock. For the most part, the presiding judge demonstrated a wealth of knowledge about the perplexities of the case, it seemed the judge was set to deliver a "fair" ruling in favour of the local distributors. While her judgment was in fact in favour of the local companies, the settlement given to each is where our opinions differ.

Let's backtrack a bit. This issue runs back over a decade when, in January 2002, Pfizer produced patent letters in the local Supreme Court thereby barring LASCO from marketing its generic version of hypertension drug Norvasc. This was later revealed to be a baseless submission as the patent had in fact expired before.

Fast forward a few years. LASCO has made legal submissions and requested compensation of US$490 million or some J$60 billion for disposal of stock, interest and whatever other inconveniences Pfizer has caused.

The award handed down by the Supreme Court last week is much too small, and, dare I say, unreasonable. The judge, in response to the company's claim declared $273,278,243 as the total settlement for LASCO pharmaceuticals. How can we rightfully move from a calculation of US$490 million provided by LASCO's experts to J$273 million? The judge accepted Pfizer's method of calculations, which I presume would be woefully understated for obvious reasons.

More so, if we were to take the opinion of any brand, I'd think we'd choose that of a home grown LASCO who would have first-hand knowledge of hypertensive care in Jamaica.

My disappointment with the ruling by Justice Vivene Harris goes much further than wanting to see a larger settlement for LASCO. It has somewhat reduced the confidence that I have in the justice system. Is it that larger companies will always be right even when they are found to be wrong? J$273 million is a drop in the bucket for a multimillion dollar company like Pfizer.

And yet left to suffer under over a decade's worth of legal fees is our home-grown LASCO.

Charmaine McGregor

Long Mountain