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Generics firms investigated for their involvement in the 'largest cartel in the history of the United States'

Published on 11/12/18 at 09:59am

At least 16 generic drugmakers are being investigated for their involvement in what has been described as the “largest cartel in the history of the United States”.

In what started as an antitrust lawsuit brought about over just two drugs in 2016, 16 generic drug companies are now being investigated for the role they played in fixing the prices of 300 generic medicines.

Citing the “total number of companies involved, and individuals,” antitrust investigator Joseph Nielson suggested that “this is most likely the largest cartel in the history of the United States”.

A number of large generics firms, including Mylan, Teva, Sun and Dr Reddy’s have all being accused of wrongdoing.

It is alleged that executives at the price fixing firms developed an insider lingo over steak dinners, cocktail parties and rounds of golf through which the ostensibly competing companies agreed to divide sales in order to ensure each company received a steady stream of profit.

The lawsuit has been bolstered in the past month after a federal judge ruled that more than 1 million emails, text messages, and other documents could be shared among plaintiffs.

 It is alleged that the corporate collusion led the price of asthma drug albuterol to spike by more than 3,400% from 13 cents a tablet to $4.70. The asthma drug was sold by pharma firms Mylan and Sun.

The additional costs thus flowed through the system hitting hospitals, pharmacists and health insurance companies. “Everyone is paying the price,” Nielsen said as he described the industry collusion with just one word “Greed.”

Louis Goss

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