St. Louis Record

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Missouri joins suit alleging generic drug price fixing; AG's office says state 'damaged by this'

Lawsuits

By John Breslin | May 21, 2019


JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri residents were undoubtedly affected by the alleged price fixing of generic drugs and medications by manufacturers and their senior employees, according to the attorney general's office.

Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced May 13 the state was joining a suit against the drug company Teva Pharmaceuticals, 19 other manufacturers, and 15 individuals involved in marketing the drugs.

The suit, which is led by Connecticut in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut and involves 43 states and Puerto Rico, claims "Teva and its co-conspirators embarked on one of the most egregious and damaging price-fixing conspiracies in the history of the United States.”


Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt | twitter.com/AGEricSchmitt

Chris Nuelle, Schmitt's press secretary, echoed those remarks, stating that the attorney general was moved to join when discovery in the earlier suit, filed in Pennsylvania, "uncovered one the most damaging price fixing schemes in history."

"Missouri was damaged by this," Nuelle told the St. Louis Record. "This is something so far reaching...I cannot imagine there are not Missouri consumers affected."

The alleged scheme likely affected out-of-pocket costs, insurance premiums and taxpayer-funded health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid, Neuelle added.

“The allegations in this new complaint, and in the litigation more generally, are just that — allegations,” Kelley Dougherty, a Teva vice president, said in a statement sent to multiple news outlets. “The company delivers high-quality medicines to patients around the world and is committed to complying with all applicable laws and regulations in doing so.”

The suit claims that over a near two-year period beginning in mid-2013, Teva increased prices on 112 generic drugs and that its employees conspired with competitors, including Sandoz, Mylan and Pfizer, to ensure they followed the hikes or did not compete with a different product. The price increases varied but included a hike of nearly 1,000 percent, according to the complaint.

In what the suit describes as "very profitable collusive relationships,” the alleged price fixing scheme involved a range of drugs and medications used to treat everything from simple infections to diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, HIV and ADHD. It is alleged the scheme caused “many billions of dollars of harm to the national economy over a period of several years.”

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