Report: Charges imminent in DOJ drug price collusion probe

Drugmakers say they set prices independently

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is expected to file charges against several pharmaceutical companies for price collusion by the end of the year, David McLaughlin and Caroline Chen report for Bloomberg.

However, the drugmakers said they set prices independently and had not done anything illegal.

Background

According to Bloomberg, companies are able to raise the prices of their products at the same time, but it is illegal for them to agree to set prices at certain levels or to coordinate on discounts, fees, or production quotas that affect prices. The federal government can prosecute companies for instances of such collusion and pursue penalties.

For the past two years, DOJ has been conducting an antitrust investigation into more than a dozen drugmakers over possible collusion. The investigation largely has focused on costlier brand-name drugs. However, DOJ now also is investigating generic drugmakers.

Several companies have received subpoenas, including Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Mylan NV, and Covis Pharma Holdings, Bloomberg reports. All companies under investigation are cooperating with the probe except for Covis, according to Bloomberg.

Drugmakers denied that they engaged in price collusion. Teva spokeswoman Denise Bradley said, "Teva is not aware of any facts that would give rise to an exposure to the company with respect to these subpoenas." And Mylan spokeswoman Nina Devlin said, "To date, we know of no evidence that Mylan participated in price fixing."

DOJ could file the first charges in the investigation by the end of the year, Bloomberg reports. The investigation in likely to continue as the cases proceed, and more charges could be filed later, according to Bloomberg (Beasley et al., Reuters, 11/3; McLaughlin/Chen, Bloomberg, 11/4; Johnson, "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 11/3; Silverman, "Pharmalot," STAT News, 11/3).

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