A trial under way in federal court in Philadelphia is testing the power of U.S. competition regulators to crack down on drugmakers' alleged moves to thwart the sale of low-cost generics.

The trial, which began Feb. 7, stems from a 2014 Federal Trade Commission lawsuit accusing AbbVie Inc. of filing baseless patent-infringement lawsuits against two generic-drug companies to delay competition for its testosterone-replacement therapy AndroGel. AbbVie denies the allegations.

"As the history of plaintiffs' success in pharmaceutical antitrust trials is mixed, and these trials are rare to begin with, a loss by FTC would undercut its bargaining strength in future similar cases," said Ballard Spahr Partner Stephen J. Kastenberg. Mr. Kastenberg represents makers of brand-name drugs in antitrust litigation, but he is not involved in the AbbVie case.

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