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Indian pharma companies Aurobindo, Glenmark, Lupin, Sun, Wockhardt dragged to court in US

Joe C Mathew     June 11, 2020

At least five Indian generic drug manufacturers are among 26 generic drugs makers that are facing a fresh law suit in the US on complaints of manipulation and artificial inflation of generic medicine prices. The complaint, filed in the US District Court for the District of Connecticut focuses on 80 topical generic drugs that account for billions of dollars of sales in the United States. The Indian companies that have been dragged to court include Aurobindo, Glenmark, Lupin, Sun and Wockhardt.

The complaint is the third to be filed in an ongoing investigation that is possibly the largest domestic corporate cartel case in the history of the United States, the office of the Maryland Attorney General states. The complaint alleges longstanding agreements among manufacturers to ensure a "fair share" of the market for each competitor, and to prevent "price erosion" due to competition.

The multistate law suit filed by Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh on June 10 alleges a broad conspiracy to artificially inflate and manipulate prices, reduce competition, and unreasonably restrain trade for generic drugs sold across the United States.

"This complaint shows again a tangled web of industry executives and sales people who met with each other on social outings and at trade shows, and had conversations that laid the groundwork for the illegal agreements," said Attorney General Frosh. "Their price-fixing schemes cost patients, the State of Maryland and health insurance companies billions of dollars in unnecessary health care expenditures."

According to a statement issued by the office of the Attorney General, the topical drugs at the centre of the complaint include creams, gels, lotions, ointments, shampoos, and solutions used to treat a variety of skin conditions, pain, and allergies. "The complaint stems from an ongoing investigation built on evidence from several cooperating witnesses at the core of the conspiracy, a massive document database of over 20 million documents, and a phone records database containing millions of call detail records and contact information for over 600 sales and pricing individuals in the generics industry. Among the records obtained by the States is a two-volume notebook containing the contemporaneous notes of one of the States' cooperators that memorialised his discussions during phone calls with competitors and internal company meetings over a period of several years", the statement says.

The first complaint, still pending in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, was filed in 2016 and now includes 18 corporate defendants, two individual defendants, and 15 generic drugs. The second complaint, also pending in the US District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, was filed in 2019 against Teva Pharmaceuticals and 19 of the nation's largest generic drug manufacturers. The complaint names 16 individual senior executive Defendants. Maryland and the other states are currently preparing for trial on that complaint.

In addition to Maryland, the suit was joined by the attorney generals of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Territory of Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, 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, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

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