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US court asks DRL to halt sale of ‘Purple Pills’

The order has been passed pending further hearing or trial.

By: ENS Economic Bureau | Hyderabad | Published: November 11, 2015 12:57:52 am

Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL) has been restrained by a US court from selling generic esomeprazole (Nexium) in the US market. Nexium is used to treat severe abdominal and acid reflux.

The order was passed by the District Court of Delaware, granting a temporary restraining order (TRO) with immediate effect on the sale, delivery, transfer or other disposition of its generic esomeprazole product in the US market. The company had launched the generic version of AstraZeneca’s Nexium in the US market on September 25. Nexium had sales of approximately $5.2 billion for the 12 months ended July 2015 in the US market.

“The order came about as a result of a motion moved by AstraZeneca objecting to the usage of the colour purple in the said generic product,” the company said in a statement.

The order has been passed pending further hearing or trial. The court has asked the parties to propose a next course of action and submit it to the court. The company is complying with the order of the court and simultaneously evaluating all possible options to resolve the matter at the earliest, it said.

On October 29, AstraZeneca had asked a Delaware court to bar DRL from introducing a purple generic version of the heartburn medication Nexium, saying the colour is trademarked and will confuse customers.

The London-based pharmaceutical company said that as the result of an expensive marketing campaign, the public now inexorably connect the “purple pills”, Nexium and the related drug Prilosec, with AstraZeneca, and that the attempt by DRL to “free-ride off the fame of AZ’s famous purple pills” harm both the original drugmaker and the public.

DRL’s generic version of Nexium is purple, with half of the capsule the dark purple of AstraZeneca’s products and half a lighter shade not used by AstraZeneca. FE

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