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Conn AG: Unsealed Lawsuit Against Generic Drug Makers Shows Proof Of Collusion

Newly released emails and documents from an unsealed multi-state lawsuit against major generic drug manufacturers show correspondence between company leaders on drug price increases, Congressional investigations and more.

And Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said the documents are evidence of how Teva Pharmaceuticals and 19 other pharmaceutical manufacturers conspired to fix drug prices through fraud and illegal schemes.

“The American people and people across Connecticut need to see how far these companies have gone to literally steal money from all of us by charging us prices that were artificially high, prices they refer to as ‘fluff’ pricing,” Tong said. “They engaged in competition that they refer to themselves as ‘co-opetition,’ making light of the fact that they were colluding openly and brazenly on price.”

Representatives for Teva could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but in the past, officials denied that the company has done anything “that would lead to civil or criminal liability.”

Connecticut is leading the charge in the lawsuit, which was initially filed last month with 43 other states in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut. The emails and other documents are a result of an ongoing investigation by state attorneys general.

The unredacted lawsuit contains emails like one sent in 2014 from counsel for Heritage Pharmaceuticals to counsel each representing Teva and Mylan. At the time, U.S. Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) were conducting a joint investigation into generic drug price increases.

The lawsuit alleges that the pharmaceutical companies coordinated responses to those Congressional investigation inquiries, suggesting in the emails that they send “polite F-U” letters. Tong said other emails and documents show that companies teamed up to coordinate price hikes, which he said is in violation of federal antitrust law.

“What we’ve done is blown the lid off this industry, and now everyone can see and we can answer a basic question, which is, why are generic drug prices so high when they were supposed to promote competition and push prices down?” Tong said.

David DesRoches contributed to this report.

Copyright 2019 Connecticut Public

Nicole Leonard joined Connecticut Public Radio to cover health care after several years of reporting for newspapers. In her native state of New Jersey, she covered medical and behavioral health care, as well as arts and culture, for The Press of Atlantic City. Her work on stories about domestic violence and childhood food insecurity won awards from the New Jersey Press Association.