A group of ICN Pharmaceuticals Inc. shareholders filed a class-action suit Thursday against the Costa Mesa company, claiming ICN and its Viratek Inc. subsidiary wrongly "hyped" the value of its experimental antiviral drug, Ribavirin.
The company's actions caused shareholders to lose millions of dollars while ICN officers made millions on insider trading, according to the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
The shareholders' suit, alleging securities fraud, is the fourth such suit filed against ICN this year by disgruntled shareholders.
The latest action names ICN, Viratek, Paine Webber Inc., eight ICN officers and directors and a second ICN subsidiary, SPI Pharmaceutical Inc., as defendants. The suit also alleges that ICN Chairman Milan Panic made a $13.4-million profit on insider trading by selling shares when it became apparent to him that the drug, trade-named "Virazole," was not going to be as profitable as expected.
"I wish they were right," Panic said Thursday in reference to the alleged profits. He declined comment on specific allegations in the suit until his attorneys had read it.
"Our position is that we have saved the lives of babies with our drugs," Panic said. "This company is in business to improve the quality of human life."