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Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219

 

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ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING SEEKS TO EXPAND COMPLAINT IN FEDERAL GENERIC DRUG ANTITRUST LAWSUIT

~ Bipartisan group of state AGs allege broad, industry-wide understanding among numerous drug manufacturers to restrain competition and raise prices on 15 generic drugs; senior executives sued ~

RICHMOND (October 31, 2017) - In an effort to safeguard competition in the generic drug market and protect Virginia consumers from overpriced pharmaceuticals, Attorney General Mark R. Herring and 45 fellow state attorneys general taking part in a wide-ranging multistate antitrust investigation of the generic drug industry have asked the federal court for permission to file an expanded complaint in the states' pending lawsuit.  The complaint will increase the number of generic drug manufacturer defendants from six to 18 and the number of drugs at issue in the litigation from two to 15.

 

"Millions of Virginians, especially seniors, rely on generic medications as more affordable options for the prescriptions they need, and those who attempt to manipulate or inflate these prices will be held accountable for their actions," said Attorney General Mark Herring. "This investigation remains ongoing, but today's request is an important step toward restoring competition and bringing down the cost of generic medications for those who rely on them."

 

For the first time, the states are also suing senior executives at two generic drug companies who are alleged to have engaged in the illegal conduct.

 

In the expanded complaint, the states allege a number of specific illegal agreements among the defendants to fix prices and allocate customers for a number of generic drugs. The states further allege that these conspiracies were part of a much broader, overarching industry code of conduct that enabled the defendant manufacturers to divvy up the market for specific generic drugs in accordance with an established, agreed-upon understanding for assigning each competitor their share of the market.

 

Previously, the lawsuit was filed against generic drug manufacturers Heritage Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Aurobindo Pharma USA, Inc.; Citron Pharma, LLC; Mayne Pharma (USA), Inc.; Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. alleging that they entered into illegal conspiracies in order to unreasonably restrain trade, artificially inflate and manipulate prices and reduce competition in the United States for two drugs: doxycycline hyclate delayed release, an antibiotic, and glyburide, an oral diabetes medication.

 

The states are seeking to expand the complaint to include Actavis Holdco U.S., Inc.; Actavis Pharma, Inc.; Ascend Laboratories, LLC; Apotex Corp.; Dr. Reddy's Laboratories, Inc.; Emcure Pharmaceuticals, Ltd.; Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Lannett Company, Inc.; Par Pharmaceutical Companies, Inc.; Sandoz, Inc.; Sun Pharmaceutical Industries,Inc.; and Zydus Pharmacuticuals (USA), Inc.

 

The expanded complaint also names two individual defendants: Rajiv Malik, president and executive director of Mylan N.V., which is the parent company of Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; and Satish Mehta, the chief executive officer and managing director of Emcure Pharmaceuticals, Ltd., which is the parent company of Heritage Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

 

The expanded complaint also adds allegations that the companies entered into conspiracies involving the following additional generic drugs:

  • Acetazolamide, used to treat glaucoma and epilepsy;
  • Doxycycline monohydrate, an antibiotic;
  • Fosinopril-hydrochlorothiazide, used to treat high blood pressure;
  • Glipizide-metformin, a diabetes medication;
  • Glyburide-metformin, a diabetes medication;
  • Leflunomide, used to treat rheumatoid arthritis;
  • Meprobamate, an anxiety medication;
  • Nimodipine, a calcium channel blocking agent used to reduce problems caused by a bleeding blood vessel in the brain;
  • Nystatin, an antifungal medication;
  • Paromomycin, an antibiotic used to treat certain parasite infections;
  • Theophylline, used to treat asthma and other lung problems;
  • Verapamil, used to treat hypertension; and
  • Zoledronic acid, used to treat hypercalcemia.

 

The lawsuit is currently pending as part of the multidistrict litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Portions of the expanded complaint are redacted in order to avoid compromising ongoing investigations.

 

The states allege that the defendants routinely coordinated their schemes through direct interaction with their competitors at industry trade shows, customer conferences and other events, as well as through direct email, phone and text message communications. The alleged anticompetitive conduct - including efforts to fix and maintain prices, allocate markets and otherwise thwart competition - has resulted in artificially increased prices for generic drugs reimbursed by federal and state healthcare programs, such as Medicaid, and raised the coverage costs for employer-sponsored health plans and out-of-pocket costs for consumers. The states allege that the conduct caused significant, harmful and continuing effects in the country's healthcare system.

 

In 2015, generic drug sales in the United States were estimated at $74.5 billion; currently, the generic pharmaceutical industry accounts for approximately 88 percent of all prescriptions written in the United States. 

 

See here for a fact sheet on the litigation. 

 

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