Norvir (ritonavir), manufactured by Abbott Laboratories, is used to treat HIV/AIDS in combination with other protease inhibitors (PI) to boost their effectiveness. Abbott also makes a combination pill called Kaletra that includes both Norvir and its own PI.
In 2003, Abbott raised Norvir’s price by 400% overnight although it did not raise the price of Kaletra. The SEIU Health & Welfare Fund filed a national class action lawsuit against the drug maker claiming it violated federal anti-trust laws. The plaintiffs charged that Abbott effectively raised the price of its competitors' products, forcing patients to either pay much more for their medications or to switch to Kaletra. The suit argued that Abbott tried to leverage its patent-protected monopoly over Norvir into a monopoly over the market for protease inhibitors. In August 2008, SEIU Health & Welfare Fund, two individual plaintiffs, and Abbott agreed to a proposed settlement of the case. Abbott agreed to pay between $10 million and $27.5 million, depending upon court rulings to come, to settle the nationwide claims by consumers who were overcharged for the medication.