44 states have joined together in a massive lawsuit against generic drug manufacturers following a years long investigation into illegal price fixing and anti-trust law violations.
Teva Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, Novartis, and Mylan were among the 20 pharmaceutical companies named in a lawsuit filed Friday, alleging an industry wide, multi-billion dollar price fixing scheme affecting more than 100 generic drugs including antibiotics, blood thinners, cancer drugs, contraceptives, statins, anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-depressants, and blood pressure medication.
The suit follows an expansive, multi-state investigation lead by Connecticut Attorney General William Tong.
Tong wrote in a statement released Sunday:
"We have hard evidence that shows the generic drug industry perpetrated a multi-billion dollar fraud on the American people. We have emails, text messages, telephone records, and former company insiders that we believe will prove a multi-year conspiracy to fix prices and divide market share for huge numbers of generic drugs."Along with the companies 15 individual senior executive defendants are specifically named in the suit which Tong has described as "the largest cartel case in the history of the United States."
According to the complaint the effort was largely organized by Teva Pharmaceuticals, but 19 other companies "willingly participated" and "reaped substantial monetary rewards."
"We all wonder why our healthcare, and specifically the prices for generic prescription drugs, are so expensive in this country—this is a big reason why."
The lawsuit alleges that company executives would meet "during industry dinners, 'girls nights out', lunches, cocktail parties, golf outings and communicated via frequent telephone calls, emails and text messages." to coordinate price increases and divide up customers in their efforts to discourage competition.
American consumers were unsurprised by the allegations and even less shocking the companies named in the lawsuit are denying any wrongdoing.
Now that the worst kept secret in the pharmaceutical industry is out in the open many are just hoping that those responsible will actually be held accountable.
Fortunately for consumers Attorney General Tong seems ready to take the fight to drugmakers.
"It's not that they're too big to fail. It's that they're just too big to care," Tong said in an interview with 60 Minutes.
But Tong appears confident that the suit will change that:
"This investigation is still in its early stages. We will not stop until these companies and the individuals who orchestrated these schemes are held accountable."