Johnson & Johnson has beaten Walgreens and Kroger's lawsuit alleging it snuffed out competition for its arthritis treatment Remicade and jacked up prices, leaving one fewer trial for the drugmaker to face amid a sprawling antitrust battle over Remicade's market dominance.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge J. Curtis Joyner handed a win to J&J and its pharmaceutical arm Janssen Biotech Inc. on antitrust claims lodged by Walgreen Co. and Kroger Co. He agreed with the drugmaker's argument that the pharmacy operators didn't have the right to sue on behalf of the wholesalers they use to buy drugs.

The retailers had lodged their suit in Pennsylvania federal court last year, accusing J&J of illegally shielding its blockbuster drug from competitors and charging artificially inflated prices for the treatment. Their suit cited the same core allegations that had sparked earlier legal action from other players in the pharmaceutical industry, including one from rival drugmaker Pfizer Inc. and a proposed class suit lodged by other buyers along the Remicade distribution line.

Johnson & Johnson and Janssen Biotech are represented by Leslie E. John and Matthew I. Vahey of Ballard Spahr, among others.

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