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Ovation Pharmaceuticals Faces Lawsuit Over Preemie Heart Drug

Armen Hareyan's picture

Illinois-based Ovation Pharmaceuticals illegally maintained a monopoly on the only two medicines approved for treatment of a potentially life-threatening heart defect in premature infants, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission alleges in a civil lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The FTC said that after buying the rights to the two medicines (NeoProfen and Indocin) a few years ago, the company boosted the drugs' prices by nearly 1,300 percent. The lawsuit seeks to prevent Ovation from maintaining simultaneous interest in the two drugs and also seeks forfeiture of all unlawfully obtained profits, the Associated Press reported.

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Ovation set the price for both medications at about $500. Before it was acquired by Ovation, Indocin cost $36. Each year, the two drugs are used to treat an estimated 30,000 babies with the heart defect called patent ductus arteriousus. The only other option to drug treatment is surgery, which costs far more than the drugs and carries a risk of serious complications.

"As a result, hospitals have little choice but to pay Ovation's price," the FTC said in the lawsuit. "The artificially high prices that hospitals are forced to pay ultimately raise costs for families, tax-supported programs such as Medicaid, and other public and private insurers."

Ovation disputed the FTC's allegations, the AP reported.