Aetna, Hartford, Conn., abruptly dropped an antitrust lawsuit it filed against drugmaker Abbott Laboratories just two days earlier. The health insurer had accused Abbott of seeking to monopolize the market for AIDS drugs when it quadrupled the price of its popular protease inhibitor Norvir to $8.57 per capsule. But it issued a terse statement Thursday saying only that it "agreed to voluntarily dismiss without prejudice its lawsuit" and "intends to discuss with Abbott the basis for its repricing action." Some industry observers have speculated that Aetna reversed course because Abbott is one of its largest customers. Abbott still faces similar suits filed by AIDS and consumer groups and is under investigation for possible antitrust violations by attorneys general in Illinois and Texas. Earlier this week, the National Institutes of Health held hearings on whether to allow other companies to make and sell the drug in an effort to reduce its cost. The government can take such action in rare cases of drugs that were at least partly developed using federal money. Abbott has said the price hike was warranted because Norvir was undervalued in the market. -- by Laura B. Benko
Aetna to Abbott: Um, never mind
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