W.Va. AG targets 26 generic drugmakers in lawsuit

CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey filed suit against more than two dozen generic drug manufacturers alleging the companies and 10 senior executives conspired to unlawfully increase prices on some 80 topical prescriptions, including those used to treat various skin conditions, pains and allergies.

The products involved account for billions of dollars in sales and include generic drugs common to many medicine cabinets, such as creams, gels, lotions, ointments, shampoos and solutions.

“Those who manipulate prices and reduce competition increase the financial burden on families across West Virginia,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Generic drugs are a key aspect of affordable healthcare, and alleged actions such as these selfishly undermine the efforts of so many to keep prices affordable for those in desperate need of prescription drugs. Bad actors must be held accountable.”

The bipartisan lawsuit brought by 51 attorneys general targets generic drugmakers Taro, Perrigo, and Fougera (now Sandoz), along with Mylan Pharmaceuticals, 22 other corporate entities and 10 individual defendants.

Each stands accused of entering into unlawful agreements to minimize competition and raise prices on dozens of topical products. The lawsuit alleges longstanding agreements among manufacturers to ensure a “fair share” of the market for each competitor and prevent “price erosion” due to competition.

For perspective, it is estimated that Taro, Perrigo and Fougera accounted for nearly two-thirds of all generic topical products prescribed nationwide from 2007 to 2014.

The lawsuit is built on evidence from several cooperating witnesses, a massive trove of more than 20 million documents and millions of phone records, including call data and contact information for more than 600 sales and pricing individuals in the generics industry.

That includes a two-volume notebook containing the contemporaneous notes of one cooperating witness. The writings memorialize the man’s discussions with competitors and internal meetings over a period of several years.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, seeks damages, civil penalties and court action to restore competition to the generic drug market.

West Virginia joined the Connecticut-led civil complaint with Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Territory of Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, U.S. Virgin Islands, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Find a full list of defendants and involved generic prescriptions in the civil complaint at https://bit.ly/3f8TWQM.

Tyler Barker
Tyler Barker is currently the News Director and Digital Content Manager for WOAY-TV. He was promoted to this job in Mid-November. He still will fill in on weather from time to time. You can follow Tyler on Facebook and Twitter @wxtylerb. Have any news tips or weather questions? Email him at tbarker@woay.com