MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Dozens of state attorneys general are suing some of the biggest generic drug makers in the country for alleged price fixing. The drug companies deny it and blame drug shortages for higher prices.
On 60 Minutes Sunday, Connecticut’s Attorney General William Tong said his office found evidence of price fixing on more than a hundred drugs.
Twenty of the biggest generic prescription drug makers in the U.S. are accused of a massive conspiracy to bilk consumers out of billions of dollars, and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison wants to prove they did.
“The fact is, this is personal,” Ellison said. “It is hitting people where they live, and we are here to do something about it.”
Minnesota is one of 43 states and Puerto Rico to file a complaint alleging the companies coordinated to inflate prices and reduce competition on more than 100 generic prescription drugs.
Generic medication is big business in Minnesota – 9 out of 10 medications in the state are filled with generics.
Ellison says there are reports that prices increased as much as 400% in recent years.
“These increases are not normal, they are not the way the market is supposed to work. Compared to prior years, these price jumps are staggering,” Ellison said.
Minnesota lawyers have been working on this case for four years, and Ellison says now it’s time to take action.
“They gotta stop. This anti-competitive behavior is just not legal and they need to stop,” Ellison said.
The drug companies deny engaging in any illegal collusion. In a statement to CBS News, the Association for Accessible Medicines – a trade group which represents generic prescription drug companies – says it and its member companies are “committed to supporting policies that promote competition.” It also notes that prices have declined overall in the last three years.
Nearly $75 billion of generic drugs were sold in the U.S. in 2015.