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Lawsuit by 44 States Accuses Pharma Giants of 'Multi-Year Conspiracy' to Hike Drug Prices by Over 1,000%

"We have hard evidence that shows the generic drug industry perpetrated a multi-billion dollar fraud on the American people."

Pfizer is one of 20 major drug manufacturers accused of conspiring to hike drug prices. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

A far-reaching lawsuit filed Friday by the attorneys general of more than 40 states accused some of the nation's largest generic drug manufacturers of conspiring to inflate prices, in some cases by over 1,000 percent.

"We have hard evidence that shows the generic drug industry perpetrated a multi-billion dollar fraud on the American people," Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, whose state led the probe into the companies' practices, said in a statement.

"Teva and its co-conspirators embarked on one of the most egregious and damaging price-fixing conspiracies in the history of the United States." —Lawsuit

"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," said Tong.

The suit names 20 major drug manufacturers—including Pfizer, Teva, Novartis, and Mylan—as well as more than a dozen senior executives, who the complaint accuses of deleting evidence after the states began their investigation in 2014.

"The industrywide scheme affected the prices of more than 100 generic drugs," the New York Times reported Saturday, "including lamivudine-zidovudine, which treats H.I.V.; budesonide, an asthma medication; fenofibrate, which treats high cholesterol; amphetamine-dextroamphetamine for ADHD.; oral antibiotics; blood thinners; cancer drugs; contraceptives; and antidepressants."

Americans pay far more for prescription drugs than the people of any other industrialized nation. Alluding to this fact, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser—who joined the multi-state lawsuit—tweeted on Saturday: "If you are angry about rising drug prices, you should be. Particularly because a major cause of price increases is illegal collusion by generic drug companies."

As the Washington Post reported, the 465-page lawsuit accuses drug company executives of "coordinating consistently to obstruct" government investigations into drug prices, including after Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) launched a probe into generic drug pricing in 2014.

"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," states the complaint.

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