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43 U.S. states accuse major drugmakers of price-fixing

Christian Fernsby |
A lawsuit filed by 43 U.S. states against a long list of pharmaceutical companies alleging price fixing and market manipulation that artificially increased costs for dozens of common generic drugs nationwide.

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The lengthy complaint names drugmakers including Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., Pfizer Inc., Breckenridge Pharmaceutical Inc., Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Inc. and several others, along with individuals associated with those companies.

“For many years, the generic pharmaceutical industry has operated pursuant to an understanding among generic manufacturers not to compete with each other and to instead settle for what these competitors refer to as ‘fair share,’” the complaint reads.

“Apparently unsatisfied with the status quo of ‘fair share’ and the mere avoidance of price erosion, Teva and its co-conspirators embarked on one of the most egregious and damaging price-fixing conspiracies in the history of the United States.”

The complaint alleges that generic drug price increases resulted in billions of dollars of harm to the economy over the life of the alleged scheme.

Drugs listed in the lawsuit treat common ailments including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer and various ailments.

The complaint alleges that pharmaceutical executives communicated with each other in person and over the telephone, sometimes at industry events including trade shows and conferences.

“These anti-competitive agreements are further refined and coordinated at regular ‘industry dinners,’ ‘girl’s nights out’ lunches, parties, golf outings, frequent telephone calls, emails and text messages,” the complaint says.

After unexplained rises in the price of generic drugs, Connecticut authorities began to investigate in 2014.

Ultimately, 48 states were involved in the investigation, which included thousands of documents and cooperating witnesses.

More than 11 million phone call records were analyzed in a special database to document contacts between ostensibly competitive rivals.