W.Va., Ohio AGs join Mylan lawsuit

CHARLESTON — West Virginia and Ohio have joined a lawsuit against the country’s largest generic drug makers, including Mylan Pharmaceuticals, which has an operation in Morgantown.

The suit claims the companies conspired with Teva Pharmaceuticals to inflate prices, reduce competition and restrain trade on more than 100 generic drugs.

Prices increased for health insurers, health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid and people who buy prescription drugs, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said.

“Ohioans who need medicine might think generic drugs would be their cheapest option, but some manufacturers have rigged the systems to avoid competition,” Yost said. “That’s not how a free market works, and the conspiracy to avoid competition makes prices higher — and it’s against the law. This lawsuit is the prescription for lower medicine prices in a free market.”

Filed by attorneys general in 44 states, 15 senior executives responsible for sales, marketing, pricing and operations, including James Nesta, vice president of sales at Mylan, were named.

“The allegations that we have included in the complaint, when proven, are illegal and those who participated in this type of conspiracy must be held accountable,” West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said. “Antitrust violations drive up prices for the consumer and, in this instance, it impacts those in desperate need of prescription drugs.”

The lawsuit alleges 20 of the largest generic drug manufacturers conspired with each other to fix prices and markets and manipulate bids for more than 100 drugs. Collusion involved a web of industry executives who met with each other during lunches, cocktail parties and golf outings and had frequent communication by phone, text messages and emails, Morrisey said.

“The concept of ‘fair share’ and price increases went hand in hand. For example, as discussed above the ongoing understanding between Defendants Teva and Sandoz that they would follow each other’s price increases was predicated on the agreement that the follower would not poach the leader’s customers after the increase,” the lawsuit said. “The same was true for the understanding between Sandoz and Mylan. As discussed above, Defendant Nesta specifically cautioned (a former sales executive at Sandoz) that Mylan did not appreciate having its prices challenged after an increase – i.e., Mylan did not want Sandoz to steal its business by underbidding its customers.”

The affected drugs treat or manage depression, diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, HIV, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other conditions.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Connecticut. It seeks damages, civil penalties and actions by the court to restore competition to the generic drug market.

The pharmaceutical companies named as defendants are Sandoz, Actavis Holdco U.S., Actavis Pharma, Amneal Pharmaceuticals, Apotex Corp., Aurobindo Pharma USA, Breckenridge Pharmaceutical Inc., Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Inc., Greenstone LLC, Lannett Co., Lupin Pharmaceuticals, Par Pharmaceutical Cos., Pfizer, Taro Pharmaceuticals USA, Upsher-Smith Laboratories, Wockhardt USA and Zydus Pharmaceuticals (USA).

Participating states are West Virginia, Ohio, Connecticut, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.