A former senior executive at Novartis AG generics unit Sandoz pleaded guilty on Friday for conspiring to fix prices of generic drugs, the latest in a long-running US criminal antitrust probe, reported Bloomberg.
Hector Armando Kellum, who was responsible for overseeing generic-drug prices and contracts at Sandoz, a New Jersey-based generic and biosimilar company run by the Swiss pharmaceutical giant, pleaded guilty to conspiring with other drug executives to fix prices from 2013 to 2015.
Kellum allegedly conspired to set prices and rig bids for off-patent drugs with former Taro Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. marketing executive Ara Aprahamian, who was indicted in the probe earlier this month, the Justice Department said.
“With today’s guilty plea, the Antitrust Division continues its prosecution of high-ranking executives who conspired to cheat America’s most vulnerable elderly consumers by raising prices for vital drugs,” said Makan Delrahim, the head of the division, in a statement.
Kellum is the fourth executive to be charged and the third to plead guilty in an investigation that began more than five years ago and has scrutinized the alleged behavior of executives at some of the world’s largest generic-drug makers, including Mylan and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. Two smaller manufacturers, Heritage Pharmaceuticals and Rising Pharmaceuticals, settled Justice Department charges with what’s known as a deferred prosecution agreement last year.
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