weather icon Drizzle

Nevada joins other states in drug price-fixing lawsuit

Updated May 10, 2019 - 8:18 pm

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford has signed on to a lawsuit filed by 42 states and Puerto Rico against a long list of pharmaceutical companies, alleging price fixing and market manipulation that artificially increased costs for dozens of common generic drugs nationwide.

The lengthy complaint names drugmakers including Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., Pfizer Inc., Breckenridge Pharmaceutical Inc., Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Inc. and several others, along with individuals associated with those companies.

“For many years, the generic pharmaceutical industry has operated pursuant to an understanding among generic manufacturers not to compete with each other and to instead settle for what these competitors refer to as ‘fair share,’” the complaint reads. “Apparently unsatisfied with the status quo of ‘fair share’ and the mere avoidance of price erosion, Teva and its co-conspirators embarked on one of the most egregious and damaging price-fixing conspiracies in the history of the United States.”

The complaint alleges that generic drug price increases resulted in billions of dollars of harm to the economy over the life of the alleged scheme. Drugs listed in the lawsuit treat common ailments including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer and various ailments.

“We absolutely intend this complaint to be a behavior-changing complaint,” said Ford, who surmised that greed drove the alleged conspiracy. “There may have been more to it than greed, but not much more.”

Ford said he agreed to join the lawsuit after being presented with research from the attorney general’s Bureau of Consumer Protection and evidence gathered by other attorneys general. He added that it’s consistent with his efforts to bring transparency to drug pricing, both as a Nevada state senator (when he voted for an insulin-price transparency bill in 2017) and as attorney general.

“This is just directly in line with and entirely consistent with my longtime approach to drug-pricing issues,” Ford said.

The complaint alleges that pharmaceutical executives communicated with each other in person and over the telephone, sometimes at industry events including trade shows and conferences. “These anti-competitive agreements are further refined and coordinated at regular ‘industry dinners,’ ‘girl’s nights out’ lunches, parties, golf outings, frequent telephone calls, emails and text messages,” the complaint says.

Companies would collude to ensure that each had an agreed-upon share of a given market, and even intentionally overbid so that an alleged co-conspirator could retain market share under the guise of competition, the complaint alleges.

After unexplained rises in the price of generic drugs, Connecticut authorities began to investigate in 2014. Ultimately, 48 states were involved in the investigation, which included thousands of documents and cooperating witnesses. More than 11 million phone call records were analyzed in a special database to document contacts between ostensibly competitive rivals.

“Defendants’ illegal agreements have raised prices, maintained artificially inflated prices, thwarted Congress’ goal to lower the prices of drugs, and thus frustrated the potential of the industry to deliver great value to plaintiff states and those they represent,” the complaint says.

A representative for Teva Pharmaceuticals Inc. could not be reached for comment Friday evening.

Contact Steve Sebelius at SSebelius@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0253. Follow @SteveSebelius on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
The Right Take New Education Funding Plan - VIDEO
On Monday, Senate Education Committee chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, released a new education funding formula. For years, many Democrat politicians have criticized the current education funding formula, called the Nevada Plan. They claim it’s old and outdated. Their biggest beef is that it doesn’t allocate more money for students who are English Language Learners or live in poverty. The theory is that it’s harder to educate those students and so they need additional services, which costs additional money.
Al Gore Speaks At UNLV About Climate Change - Video
Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore talks to an audience at UNLV about the effects of Climate change and how to switch to renewable sources of energy.
Forum on Wages and Working People Highlights - VIDEO
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper speak in Las Vegas, Nevada.
House committee OKs bill by Titus for airport signs

The House Homeland Security Committee approved a bill by Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., Wednesday to translate airport signs into multiple languages to assist tourists and others who don’t speak English.