OLYMPIA - Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is joining a lawsuit among 43 attorneys who are going after major pharmaceutical companies for allegedly driving up costs of more than one hundred generic drugs.
Ferguson and 43 other attorneys filed a lawsuit against the largest generic drug manufacturer in the world, Teva pharmaceutical company for allegedly knowingly increasing prices of 116 common medications, including everyday antibiotics, antidepressants, contraceptives, and statins.
Idaho, Montana, and Oregon are among the states involved in the litigation.
A portion of the press release stated:
In one of the most egregious and damaging price-fixing schemes in United States history, Teva and its co-conspirators raised prices on some drugs by well over 1,000 percent at the height of the conspiracy from July 2013 to January 2015. One blood pressure medication increased by as much as 2,700 percent.
The lawsuit, which was filed on May 10 in U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, it alleges the companies created an anticompetitive culture in the generic drug industry and met routinely to agree to raise prices of generic drugs in violation of state and federal antitrust laws and the Washington State Consumer Protection Act.
The lawsuit identified twenty-one generic drug manufacturers who were reportedly involved in the price-fixing scheme: Teva, Sandoz, Mylan, Pfizer, Actavis, Amneal, Apotex, Aurobindo, Breckenridge, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Glenmark, Greenstone, Lannett, Lupin, Par, Rising, Taro Israel, Taro USA, Upsher-Smith, Wockhardt USA and Zydus.
“These pharmaceutical manufacturers conspired to raise prices of generic prescription drugs, driving up health care costs and making it harder for millions of Washingtonians to access affordable care,” Attorney General Ferguson said. “Our friends and neighbors cannot afford to pay inflated drug prices to increase the profits of pharmaceutical companies. This is one of the most damaging price-fixing conspiracies in history – we’re going to hold those responsible accountable.”
Sales of generic drugs in the United States were estimated at $74.5 billion in 2015. The lawsuit estimates that the alleged conduct resulted in billions of dollars of overcharges nationwide. Ferguson says the overcharges likely affected millions of people in Washington State.
When a branded drug manufacturer loses exclusive patent rights to a drug, generic drugs can enter the market at a lower cost. Generic drugs are equivalent to their brand-name counterparts, providing consumers the option to purchase their medications at a lower price.
Ferguson added during the conspiracy, the costs of these drugs increased by 50 percent to 1,000 percent or more. Generic drugs whose prices had increased by more than 100 percent accounted for more than $500 million in Medicaid drug reimbursements between June 2013 and June 2014.
The lawsuit seeks damages, the maximum civil penalties allowed under the law and weeks action by the court to "restore competition to the generic drug market".
In December of 2016, Washington State joined a lawsuit against six generic drug manufacturers for a different price-fixing scheme that involved two generic drugs. The case is still pending in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.