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AG Nessel Joins Coalition Filing Third Complaint in Ongoing Antitrust Price-Fixing Investigation Into Generic Drug Industry
June 10, 2020
LANSING – Attorney General Dana Nessel today joined 50 other attorneys general in filing the third complaint stemming from the ongoing antitrust investigation into a widespread conspiracy by generic drug manufacturers to artificially inflate and manipulate prices, reduce competition, and unreasonably restrain trade for generic drugs sold across the United States.
This new complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, focuses on 80 topical generic drugs that account for billions of dollars of sales in the United States. The complaint names 26 corporate Defendants and 10 individual Defendants. The lawsuit seeks damages, civil penalties, and actions by the court to restore competition to the generic drug market.
The topical drugs at the center of the complaint include creams, gels, lotions, ointments, shampoos, and solutions used to treat a variety of skin conditions, pain, and allergies.
“At the expense of the many millions of people across our nation who relied on their products, these drug manufacturers intentionally colluded to manipulate drug prices for their benefit,” said Nessel. “The defendants clearly let their greed get in the way of maintaining an ethical operation and for that, my colleagues and I will ensure they are held accountable for their actions.”
The complaint stems from an ongoing investigation built on evidence from several cooperating witnesses at the core of the conspiracy, a massive document database of over 20 million documents, and a phone records database containing millions of call detail records and contact information for over 600 sales and pricing individuals in the generics industry. Among the records obtained by the States is a two-volume notebook containing the contemporaneous notes of one of the States’ cooperators that memorialized his discussions during phone calls with competitors and internal company meetings over a period of several years.
Between 2007 and 2014, three generic drug manufacturers, Taro, Perrigo, and Fougera (now Sandoz) sold nearly two-thirds of all generic topical products dispensed in the country. The multistate investigation has uncovered comprehensive, direct evidence of unlawful agreements to minimize competition and raise prices on dozens of topical products. The complaint alleges longstanding agreements among manufacturers to ensure a “fair share” of the market for each competitor, and to prevent “price erosion” due to competition.
Today’s complaint is the third to be filed in an ongoing, expanding investigation that has been referred to as “possibly the largest domestic corporate cartel case in the history of the United States.”
The first complaint, still pending in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, was filed in 2016 and now includes 18 corporate Defendants, two individual Defendants, and 15 generic drugs. Two former executives from Heritage Pharmaceuticals, Jeffery Glazer and Jason Malek, have entered into settlement agreements and are cooperating with the attorneys general working group in that case.
The second complaint, also pending in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, was filed in 2019 against Teva Pharmaceuticals and 19 of the nation’s largest generic drug manufacturers. The complaint names 16 individual senior executive Defendants. The States are currently preparing for trial on that complaint.
Nessel joins the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Territory of Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, U.S. Virgin Islands, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin in filing the third complaint.
A copy of today’s filing is available here.