By ERIC EYRE
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A group of 46 state attorneys general — which includes West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey — moved to expand a lawsuit against generic drug manufacturers Tuesday, targeting Mylan Pharmaceutical’s second-ranking executive.
The attorneys general are seeking to sue Rajiv Malik, president and executive director of Mylan N.V., as part of a lawsuit alleging price-fixing by makers of generic drugs used to treat diabetes, heart and blood disorders, infections and other health problems.
Morrisey, who is running for U.S. Senate in West Virginia’s Republican primary, held a news conference at the state Capitol Tuesday to announce the lawsuit’s latest developments. Mylan CEO Heather Bresch is the daughter of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who holds the seat Morrisey is seeking. The state attorneys general have not named Bresch as a defendant.
Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, a Democrat, is leading the case.
In a statement, Mylan said it had investigated the price-fixing allegations and found no wrongdoing by Malik or other employees.
“Mylan has deep faith in the integrity of its president, Rajiv Malik, and stands behind him fully,” the drug makers said. “Mylan and Rajiv Malik both intend to defend this case vigorously.”
The state attorneys general also plan to add Emcure Pharmaceuticals CEO Satish Mehta to the lawsuit. Emcure is a generic drug maker headquartered in India.
Malik and Mehta are the first senior executives to be sued in the case.
“They were part of the collusion,” Morrisey said.
The updated complaint alleges the drug makers executed illegal agreements to fix prices for generic drugs and divvy up the market among competitors. The lawsuit’s new allegations reference conversations between employees at several drug makers who discuss manipulating prices.
“We allege the defendants exploited their interactions at various industry trade shows, conferences and other similar events to develop relationships and to sow the seeds for their illegal agreements,” Morrisey said. “We believe this collusion pervades the industry.”
The expanded lawsuit also would increase the number of drug companies being sued from six to 18.
The original complaint named: Mylan, Teva Pharmaceutical, Mayne Pharma USA, Citron Pharma, Aurobindo Pharma and Heritage Pharmaceuticals.
The states seek to expand the lawsuit to add: Activis Holdco U.S.; Activis Pharma; Ascend Laboratories; Apotex Corp.; Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories; Emcure Pharmaceuticals; Glenmark Pharmaceuticals; Lannett Company; Par Pharmaceutical Companies; Sandoz; Sun Pharmaceutical Industries; and Zydus Pharmaceuticals.
The companies have denied the allegations.
The multistate lawsuit is filed in federal court in Pennsylvania. The expansion of the suit requires a judge’s permission.
The U.S. Department of Justice also is conducting a criminal investigation of the generic drug makers.
In 2015, generic drug sales in the U.S. topped $74.5 billion. Nearly 90 percent of all prescriptions are written for generic drugs
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