United Senior Action of Indianapolis has filed a class-action lawsuit against Eli Lilly and Co. and several other drugmakers over their attempts to prevent Americans from buying prescription drugs from Canada.
The lawsuit filed Thursday by the 15,000-member group in federal court in Minneapolis follows a similar action last month by the Minnesota Senior Federation. The groups are fighting to allow Americans to buy lower-priced drugs through Canadian pharmacies that sell online or in retail outlets in U.S. cities.
Bill Kane, a Chicago attorney representing both groups, said he expected more lawsuits from activist groups in other states but would not discuss how many.
'It's to the credit of this group that they saw what we were doing in Minnesota and wanted to be involved," Kane said.
Ed Sagebiel, a spokesman for Indianapolis-based Lilly, said the company does not discuss pending litigation. But he repeated earlier company statements that seniors have several avenues for obtaining safe, affordable drugs, including through the new Medicaid drug card.
The lawsuit claims the drugmakers beginning in June 2002 conspired, in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act, to discourage Canadian wholesalers and pharmacies from selling drugs to Americans.
Paul Severance, United Senior Action's executive director, said it was vital for American consumers to receive reasonably priced drugs.
"Prescription prices in the United States make medicines out of reach of many, many seniors," Severance said.
Two years ago, the organization sponsored bus trips to Ontario to buy pharmaceuticals, then arranged for purchases through two Canadian exporters.
One pulled back after its supplies were pinched off, but United Senior Action members continue to buy from the other, Severance said.