The U.S. Supreme Court refused on Monday to hear an appeal of a drug patent case that antitrust officials had hoped would speed access to cheaper generic versions of nearly a dozen popular medicines that now cost consumers more than $25 billion a year.

The Federal Trade Commission asked the high court to review a March 2005 decision by the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that settlements reached in lawsuits filed by the pharmaceutical company Schering-Plough Corp. against two companies challenging its patent on a drug did not violate antitrust law.