A group of US states have widened the ambit of price-fixing charges against companies dealing in generic drugs, by adding a new list of firms — including a clutch of Indian ones — and medicines. The new list of companies accused by the US states include Novartis’s unit Sandoz, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, Endo International’s unit Par Pharmaceutical, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, Apotex, Glenmark Generics, Lannett Company, Alkem Laboratories unit Ascend Laboratories and Cadila Healthcare’s Zydus Pharmaceuticals. The US anti-trust body is to probe charges of unreasonable trade impediments, artificial jacking up of prices and undermining competition in the country’s generic pharmaceutical industry. The original complaint, filed in December, had targeted Mylan, Heritage, Aurobindo Pharma USA, Citron Pharma, Mayne Pharma USA and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA for two medicines, delayed-release doxycycline and glyburide. An amended lawsuit, brought by the Attorneys General of 45 states and the District of Columbia, accused 18 companies and subsidiaries and named 15 medicines. It also targeted two individual executives: Rajiv Malik, president and executive director of Mylan NV, and Satish Mehta, CEO and MD of Emcure Pharmaceuticals.
“Dr Reddy’s is aware of the ongoing investigation by the US department of justice (DoJ) into this matter and the recent development by the Attorneys General of Connecticut in this regard. The company intends to continue cooperating fully with all authorities on this matter and as it is sub-judice, wish to refrain from further comment at this point in time,” a Dr Reddy’s spokesperson said. The amended complaint would expand the number of drugs to include glipizide-metformin and glyburide-metformin, which are among the most commonly used diabetes treatments. Others include acetazolamide, which is used to treat glaucoma and epilepsy; the antibiotic doxycycline monohydrate; the blood pressure medicine fosinopril; the anti-anxiety medicine meprobamate; and the calcium channel blocking agent nimodipine.
The states said the drugmakers and executives divided customers for their drugs among themselves, agreeing that each company would have a certain percentage of the market. The companies sometimes agreed on price increases for common antibiotic, doxycycline hyclate, in advance, the states added. “While we do not comment on ongoing litigation, Glenmark prides itself on conducting its business with the utmost integrity and complying with all applicable laws, rules and regulations,” a Glenmark spokesperson said “It is our belief that price-fixing is systematic, it is pervasive, and that a culture of collusion exists in the industry,” Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, who is leading the case, told a news conference in Hartford.
The price of doxycycline rose from $20 for 500 tablets to $1,849 between October 2013 and May 2014, according to US senator Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat who had been pressing for action on high drug prices. However, Mylan has refuted allegations. In a statement, it said it found no evidence of price-fixing by the company or any of its employees, and vowed to defend itself vigorously. Malik, the company’s second-ranking official, has received more than $50 million in compensation over the past three years, last year making more than CEO Heather Bresch. “Mylan has deep faith in the integrity of its president, Rajiv Malik, and stands behind him fully,” the company said.