SALT LAKE CITY – Utah has joined a federal antitrust lawsuit alleging that six generic drug makers entered into illegal conspiracies in order to unreasonably restrain trade, artificially inflate and manipulate prices and reduce competition in the United States for two generic drugs.
“Along with 39 other states, we have laid out a strong and compelling case. In our amended complaint, we allege that these drug companies engaged in anti-competitive behavior, driving drug prices artificially high for certain generic drugs to the serious detriment of consumers,” Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said in a statement released Thursday.
An amended complaint filed with the federal court increases the number of plaintiff states in the lawsuit – initially filed in December 2016 – from 20 to 40.
“With the filing of this amended complaint, my office hopes to send a message of zero tolerance for trade practices we believe harm Americans and particularly those that hurt residents of Utah,” Reyes said.
In addition to the alleged violations of federal antitrust laws, the amended complaint also adds claims of alleged violations of state antitrust laws in each of the 40 states, as well as state consumer protection laws in most of the states, against the defendant generic companies Heritage Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Aurobindo Pharma USA, Inc.; Citron Pharma, LLC; Mayne Pharma (USA), Inc.; Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.
“I appreciate the hard work of my Anti-Trust team, including Section Director Ronald Ockey, former Division Director David Sonnenreich, Assistant Attorney General Eddie Vasquez and their stellar paralegal, Brian Blake, who have worked diligently with Connecticut and the other plaintiff states to bring this case forward,” Reyes said. “The Utah AG’s office is dedicated to protecting consumers and companies from unlawful business practices such as those alleged in this case.”
In July 2014, the state of Connecticut initiated an investigation of the reasons behind suspicious price increases of certain generic pharmaceuticals. The investigation uncovered evidence of a well-coordinated and long-running conspiracy to fix prices and allocate markets for the antibiotic doxycycline hyclate delayed release and the oral diabetes medication glyburide. The investigation is ongoing as to a number of additional generic drugs, generic drug companies and key executives.
The complaint further alleges 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 – caused significant, harmful and continuing effects in the country’s healthcare system, the states allege.
Connecticut is leading the multistate group of plaintiff states, which now also includes Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
The lawsuit was filed under seal in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut. Portions of the complaint are redacted in order to avoid compromising the ongoing investigation.