Coalition of U.S. attorneys general suing generic drug manufacturers for hiking prices

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey delivering a speech about efforts against...
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey delivering a speech about efforts against opioids in March 2018(WHSV)
Published: Jun. 10, 2020 at 11:25 AM EDT
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West Virginia's attorney general, alongside attorneys general from across the country, is suing more than two dozen generic drug manufacturers, alleging they and 10 senior executives conspired to unlawfully increase prices on some 80 topical prescriptions, including those used to treat various skin conditions, pains and allergies.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced on Wednesday that he's joining a Connecticut-led civil lawsuit brought by 51 attorneys general targeting generic drugmakers Taro, Perrigo, and Fougera (now Sandoz), along with Mylan Pharmaceuticals, 22 other corporate entities and 10 individual defendants.

According to the attorneys general, the products that the companies are alleged of jacking up prices on included generic drugs common to many medicine cabinets, such as creams, gels, lotions, ointments, shampoos and solutions, leading to billions of dollars in sales.

“Those who manipulate prices and reduce competition increase the financial burden on families across West Virginia,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Generic drugs are a key aspect of affordable healthcare, and alleged actions such as these selfishly undermine the efforts of so many to keep prices affordable for those in desperate need of prescription drugs. Bad actors must be held accountable.”

Each of the companies is accused of entering into unlawful agreements to minimize competition and raise prices on dozens of topical products. The lawsuit alleges longstanding agreements among manufacturers to ensure a “fair share” of the market for each competitor and prevent “price erosion” due to competition.

For perspective, it's estimated that Taro, Perrigo and Fougera accounted for nearly two-thirds of all generic topical products prescribed nationwide from 2007 to 2014.

The lawsuit is built on a massive trove of more than 20 million documents and millions of phone records, including call data and contact information for more than 600 sales and pricing individuals in the generics industry, provided by several cooperating witnesses.

It includes a two-volume notebook containing the contemporaneous notes of one cooperating witness. The writings memorialize the man’s discussions with competitors and internal meetings over a period of several years.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, seeks damages, civil penalties and court action to restore competition to the generic drug market.

West Virginia joined the Connecticut-led civil complaint with Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Territory of Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, 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 and Wisconsin.

You can find the full civil complaint