Teva charged — again — for alleged role in fixing generic drug prices, this time by the Department of Justice
The docket keeps piling up for Teva.
Late Tuesday, the Justice Department became the latest in a long string of prosecutors to accuse the Israeli drugmaker of malfeasance, charging the company with three counts of conspiring to fix generic drug prices. These new allegations come just a week after Teva $TEVA was sued by New York over its role in the opioid epidemic and by federal prosecutors over its purported scheme to defraud Medicare.
“Today’s charge reaffirms that no company is too big to be prosecuted for its role in conspiracies that led to substantially higher prices for generic drugs relied on by millions of Americans,” said Makan Delrahim, Assistant Attorney General of the DoJ’s Antitrust Division in a statement. “The division will continue … to ensure that companies that blatantly cheat consumers of the benefits of free markets are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
Pre-market trading showed a muted reaction from investors, with Teva shares down about 3% early Wednesday.
Teva is the seventh company to be charged for rigging generic drug prices, the department added. Five of the cases were settled in deferred prosecution agreements, while the sixth is awaiting a trial.
Each of the counts included in Tuesday’s filing carries a maximum of $100 million in penalties.
According to the DoJ release, Teva participated in three separate price fixing plots from at least as early as May 2013 and through at least December 2015. The most prominent drug involved was pravastatin, a common treatment used to lower cholesterol and reduce the risks of heart attack and stroke.
Teva colluded with Indian generic manufacturer Glenmark, Canadian pharma Apotex and other unnamed co-conspirators, the DoJ accuses, to raise prices of pravastatin and other generic drugs. Apotex settled with prosecutors and agreed to pay a $24.1 million fine in May, while a grand jury indicted Glenmark in July.
Additionally, the Israeli pharma stands accused of engaging in two other alleged schemes with Taro Pharmaceuticals and Novartis’ generics unit Sandoz, respectively. Taro and Sandoz both admitted to their roles in the plots earlier this year and paid fines of about $200 million each. Top executives from the companies, including a former senior Novartis executive, were also previously charged.
Legal proceedings are adding up for Teva, as the Medicare case brought last week blamed the company for paying over $300 million in kickbacks to separate foundations between 2006 and 2015. That resulted in the quintupling of the cost of Copaxone, a former cash cow that peaked at $3 billion in yearly sales.
The New York lawsuit alleged more nefarious misdeeds on Teva’s part, accusing that the company “knowingly furthered false narratives” in order to boost sales and misrepresented the risks of fentanyl-based drugs for off-label use.