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Morrisey joins antitrust suit against Mylan, other drug companies

Gazette-Mail file photo
The Mylan manufacturing facility in Morgantown.

The West Virginia attorney general joined a multistate lawsuit alleging antitrust violations against six generic drug manufacturers.

According to a news release sent from his office Monday, Patrick Morrisey filed a companion case with the state of Connecticut’s lawsuit against Aurobindo Pharma USA, Citron Pharma, Heritage Pharmaceuticals, Mayne Pharma, Mylan Pharmaceuticals and Teva Pharmaceuticals.

According to the complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court of Connecticut, Connecticut’s ongoing, non-public investigation into price increases for certain generic pharmaceuticals, “uncovered evidence of a broad, well-coordinated and long-running series of schemes to fix the prices and allocate markets for a number of generic pharmaceuticals in the United States.”

In the release, Morrisey said the allegations, if true, harm consumers.

“Failure to comply with antitrust laws hurts consumers and drives up prices,” he said. “The allegations raised in this lawsuit are troubling and will be pursued vigorously in court.”

Along with West Virginia, Arkansas, Washington D.C., Missouri and New Mexico are signed on to the companion case.

The complaint alleges the pharmaceutical companies engaged in practices and conspiracies that artificially inflated prices of doxycycline hyclate delayed release and glyburide in the U.S. It states the defendants conspired to fix prices and pre-determine market shares and customer bases, and deliberately concealed their communications while doing so.

The complaint states drug manufacturers have said in the past that price increases have been the result of industry consolidation, FDA-mandated plant closures or elimination of unprofitable generic drug product lines. However, Connecticut’s investigation allegedly revealed deliberate collusion among the generic drug providers.

“When entering a generic drug market, Heritage and other Defendants routinely sought out their competitors in an effort to reach agreement to allocate market share, maintain high prices and/or avoid competing on price,” the complaint states. “These agreements had the effect of artificially maintaining high prices for a large number of generic drugs and creating an appearance of competition when in fact none existed.”

Doxycycline hyclate delayed release, known by the brand name Doryx, is an antibacterial drug.

The second generic drug in question, glyburide, known by brand names DiaBeta or Micronase, is used in medications to control blood sugar levels for people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

The complaint also alleges the defendants were aware their actions were illegal and worked to conceal their conversations.

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen announced his suit against the companies in December 2016.

The suit is not Morrisey’s first legal action against Mylan. In 2016, he launched a Medicaid fraud investigation on the company due to sharp price increases of its EpiPen auto-injectors.

Mylan’s chief executive officer, Heather Bresch, is the daughter of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. Morrisey announced his candidacy for the senate seat held by Manchin last week.

Mylan has contributed thousands of dollars to Manchin’s campaigns since 2010. The company’s controversy has become a common attack target from conservatives hoping to unseat Manchin.

Jonathan Kott, a spokesman for Manchin, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

When asked for comment on the suit, Nina Devlin, head of global communications for Mylan, said the company knows of no evidence to suggest it violated antitrust laws.

“To date, we know of no evidence that Mylan engaged in price fixing,” she said.

Also, Denise Bradley, senior vice president of global corporate reputation for Teva denied wrongdoing as well.

“Teva denies having engaged in any conduct that would give rise to liabillity with respect to this lawsuit,” she said.

Press teams from each of the remaining defendant companies could not be reached for comment.

9:24 a.m. July 18: This story has been updated with an additional comment from a defendant.

Reach Jake Zuckerman at jake.zuckerman@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-4814 or follow @jake_zuckerman on Twitter.

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