Generic Drug Antitrust Trials Will Start With Dermatology Focus

The first trial of claims that the generic drug industry engaged in an “overarching conspiracy” to fix prices will focus on dermatology products, a federal judge in Philadelphia ruled, saying they were the least likely to be complicated by related criminal prosecutions.

According to Bloomberg Law, in picking the “bellwether” case, Judge Cynthia M. Rufe sided with the state attorneys general leading the multidistrict litigation. She rejected a call from the drugmakers facing the lawsuit to start instead with a trial over the alleged role played by Heritage Pharmaceutical in any broader cartel.

In 2020 a coalition of attorneys general filed an antitrust lawsuit against some of the world’s largest generic drugmakers, including Pfizer, Mylan, and Novartis’ Sandoz unit, alleging that for years the companies fixed prices and manipulated the market for over 80 drugs.

The suit, brought by 51 attorneys general — including those of DC and every state besides California, Utah, South Dakota, and Wyoming — is the latest bramble in a legal thicket that has ensnared the generics industry since 2016, when 20 state attorneys general accused Teva Pharmaceuticals and Mylan for an antibiotic and a diabetes drug. “We believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg,” then-Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said at the time.

Since then, generics companies have found themselves at odds not only with state attorneys, who filed another suit in 2019, but also federal investigators, who have successfully prosecuted criminal charges against at least two generics makers. In March, Sandoz pleaded guilty to fixing the price of critical drugs from 2013 to 2015 and agreed to pay US$195 million. Heritage Pharmaceuticals and Rising Pharmaceuticals entered into similar agreements.